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Using e-learning for staff training in the probation service

A Virtual College Case Study

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The Background

Jo Instan

“As a Trust we were looking for an alternative way to train staff that didn't involve calling them in to training venues for face to face courses.“

Jo Instan, Learning & Development Administrator

West Mercia Probation Trust is one of 35 Probation Trusts across England and Wales. It is a key criminal justice agency that works directly with offenders to tackle the causes of their offending behaviour and help them to stop re-offending. West Mercia Probation Trust has around 320 employees and was looking for alternative ways to train their staff effectively. They joined the Safeguarding e-Academy in February 2012.

The Solution

The Trust overcame this by ensuring that every location had a stand-alone computer that could access the Internet. They also needed to ensure that all members of staff knew about both the upgraded computers and the availability of new e-learning courses. A number of trust updates went out via email and a Resource Officer in each area was given responsibility for allocating time on the internet and Flash enabled computers. To make sure that all staff were fully engaged with the new e-learning programme, full details were sent to all managers in the Trust, who then presented the different course options. Staff were instructed to discuss any training requests with their managers who would then instruct the local Resource Officer to complete a batch upload form and book time for them on the standalone computer. This booking system ensured that any staff who were unsure of where there computer was, or how to get on to it had a named person in their location who could help and support them. The Trust even distributed posters to every location including details of what learners could expect from the various courses and who to contact to arrange access.

The Challenge

The Trust had previously used face to face courses to train their staff, meaning they had to take time away from their important work to travel to training venues. Having some previous experience of Virtual College’s Safeguarding Children e-Academy e-learning they knew that in addition to making training more accessible it could help to reduce costs including venue hire, trainer fees and staff travel. Unfortunately, due to security restrictions and computer capabilities, none of the Trust’s workstations had the capability to run the Safeguarding e-Academy’s Flash based e-learning courses.

The Results

Jo Instan stated that “Although there were barriers to the implementation of e-Learning, the Trust has overcome these to the extent where staff now regularly use e-Learning as a developmental method”. During February, which was LGBT awareness month, a challenge was set to see which team could register the most staff and have the highest completion rate for LGBT training. This approach was extremely successful, in just one month 158 staff registered for the course and 74 completed it. Overall, the implementation of e-Learning has not only cut expenditure in terms of staff travel and time, it has also given the staff access to a wider range of courses and improved learning and development. Liz Howarth, Safeguarding Team Manager commented that West Mercia Probation’s “proactive, solution-based approach ensured a successful roll out”.

The Features

  • Blended Learning
  • Certificate Printing
  • E-Learning Courses
  • Reporting
  • Tracking of Learner Progress

What's Next?

The Trust is keen to ensure the e-learning programme continues. Over a year on, course registrations have plateaued, however continuing marketing efforts such as linking up with awareness raising weeks and circulating posters to remind staff of the training available is helping to keep up the momentum of the programme.

This is a bitesized case study you can get the full version by clicking download

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