It’s all down to the success of a pioneering public and private sector e-learning partnership designed to equip all those working with children and young people across the Lincolnshire County Council area with vital new skills.
LSCB’s flagship work in the delivery of e-learning is being undertaken in partnership with the Safeguarding Children e-Academy (SCeA), the UK’s leading provider of online training courses in this field.
The initiative is already having a major impact on the Safeguarding Children world regionally.
To date, 1,035 people from the public, private, statutory and voluntary sectors have embarked on the e-learning path, completing a total of 1,119 modules. Of these, 723 e-learners are now fully competent, which represents a 65% completion rate. This remains one of the highest among all SCeA members nationally.
The first person to gain an e-learning qualification was Dr Robert Wilson, consultant in public health medicine for Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust and vice-chair of LSCB – he has successfully completed every module to date.
He was followed by Councillor Mrs Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for children's services, while Peter Duxbury, Lincolnshire’s director of children’s services and chair of both LSCB and The Children & Young People Strategic Partnership Group, is also undertaking e-learning courses.
Councillor Bradwell said: “This innovative project, using the latest technology, has allowed us to offer a number of e-learning modules to the children's workforce in Lincolnshire.
“This includes important knowledge of basic safeguarding of children, domestic abuse and integrated working with partners. I have completed an e-module myself and would encourage all those working in children's services to take up the challenge and embrace the benefits of e-learning.”
Mr Duxbury commented: “e-learning represents a really excellent and effective way of ensuring consistency and common knowledge for all those who work with children and young people.”
LSCB is delivering four e-learning modules - Basic Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Abuse, Integrated Working and HENRY, a new programme designed to improve the health of the nation’s youngsters and reduce obesity levels in pre-school children.
Julie Rimington, LSCB’s Acting Senior Learning and Development Officer and Safeguarding team leader, said: “The initiative has proved a resounding success. The courses are extremely flexible and can be undertaken either in the workplace or at home, though e-learning continues to be supplemented by face-to-face learning, for which there remains a need.”
LSCB is also cementing its close working relationship with the SCeA by taking the lead in the development of new e-learning modules with a view to them being rolled out both county-wide and to other e-Academy members nationally.
The two organisations are also developing a Safer Parenting Website to encourage positive and responsible parenting across the entire county.
It will be aimed at parents and carers of children and young people from pre-birth to 18 years of age, and will also provide information for the Lincolnshire Children’s Workforce. Access to the website and its contents will be free for parents living in Lincolnshire.
There will also be an inbuilt emergency search and response facility containing a list of the most frequently asked questions – and the recommended answers to them.
Once launched and piloted in Lincolnshire, the website will then be available nationally from the SCeA.
Externally, LSCB has established a relationship to deliver Safeguarding Children e-learning to staff at Lincolnshire Secure Unit in Sleaford, which houses children and young people from all over the country. They are very young and vulnerable – either on remand or serving custodial sentences.
Part of the Secure Accommodation Network, Sleaford is one of the first units in the country to adopt e-learning, which is being delivered by Training Officer Haydn Lewis. Virtually all the 65 staff at the unit have successfully completed their courses.
Unit Manager Dave Clarke said: “While face-to-face learning remains important, e-learning is a major enhancement to our overall training provision because of its flexibility and ease of delivery in-house.
“It is all about empowering our team and we are among the frontrunners in the country on the delivery of e-learning. It puts us on the map and helps recognise the work we are doing – at our recent inspection by the Criminal Justice Board, we were hailed as an example of best practice in our sector.”
Julie Rimington said: “We have made an extremely promising start, but the LSCB team is under no illusions that much still needs to be done. Some 15,000 people spread across at least 400 different organisations work with children and young people across the county.
“Our key aim is to equip all of them with at least awareness level Safeguarding Children training to ensure that every child and young person, in every part of the county, has the best possible start in life and is given every possible support to achieve their full potential.
“We plan to achieve this by extending the reach of e-learning to those who may find it difficult to access face-to-face learning, as well as more effectively targeting the voluntary sector, the biggest single area for those who work with children and young people - and one of the biggest challenges.
“The general public represent another key target sector, notably people who don’t have a computer at home, and we are looking to open up access to e-learning through libraries and other public buildings.
“It is all about making the county a safer place for our children and young people – to ensure that in Lincolnshire every child matters.”
Since its formation in 2006, the Safeguarding Children e-Academy, based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, has seen 47 local Safeguarding Children Boards across the country sign up to access online training.
Manager Abby Dacres said: “Our prime focus is to use online solutions to help enhance the traditional approach to education and training. However, there are vast numbers of people who need appropriate training in areas of child protection, but who may struggle to take time away from work to access face-to-face training.
“With e-learning, it is possible to consistently train thousands of staff across any number of different geographical locations and job descriptions. Delivering training using e-learning frees up the trainers so they to concentrate on the more in-depth practical training they do best.
“The e-Academy researches and develops structured strategic frameworks and introduces clear pathways that will embed e-learning as best practice in the children’s workforce and help create a safer future for our children.”
LSCB has its own user-friendly website www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lscb – which details the board’s work and contains a special section on e-learning and the work of LSCB in general. It also includes an online registration form. The SCeA website is www.safeguardingchildrenea.co.uk