Getting our adult training right

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Wayne shares some thoughts on the importance of good adult training after listening to the views of 23 volunteers on a residential course (plus members of the Hampshire County Training team).

Underpinning 'good local Scouting'

'Good local Scouting' is one of those kingpins in our 'keys to success in growing Scouting', and requires effective training of adult volunteers and their retention.

I took the opportunity at the weekend to join 23 members plus their volunteer trainers who were participating in a residential course, to see what they had to say and to understand their first impressions.

Reinforcing our actions

Their views mirrored what I've generally heard from others, which reinforce the actions we are taking to improve the training experience and effectiveness.

The current adult training scheme was introduced in 2003; since then the scheme has continued to adapt and will continue to in order to properly meet the demands of both the trainees and the Movement.  Over the next few years, the updates to the scheme will focus upon the following:

Manager training

I've talked many times about the vital importance of our leadership and management work, so it is not surprising that we are focussed on ensuring our managers receive the best possible training. With this in mind it is intended that:

  • Manager training will adopt a 'blended learning' approach. This will allow managers to pick up specific knowledge (procedures, rules, systems etc) through short bite-sized videos/online content, using workbooks, or in a one-to-one/small group format, whilst allowing them to develop their management and interpersonal techniques through course-based learning
  • The courses would be delivered locally by people who have received specific training (ie in a similar way to the recent Executive Committee trainer training).
  • The 'bite-sized' videos/online content approach will also allow managers to re-visit learning if a particular topic needs attention locally.
  • The training will pick up the six areas of leadership and management whilst also covering the requirements of the Wood Badge (there is of course considerable overlap).

Section leader training

Our success is dependent on the delivery of fun and exciting programmes by inspired and motivated volunteers who are properly supported. There has been some concern that new Section Leaders are not receiving the key information they need for their new role quickly enough, so:

  • To ensure that Section Leaders receive the most relevant training at the right stage we are going to produce a suggested priority order for modules.
  • It will only be a 'suggested order' to avoid people having to wait for one learning opportunity before being able to do another. It will also allow the order to be flexible in order to meet individual/local needs and to acknowledge prior learning.

Trainer training

Another key element is to ensure the highest quality of training delivery (clearly not an issue in Hampshire) and so we are looking at a new method of delivering trainer training, aimed at both improving the quality of such training and increasing its availability (the comments I hear and research shows that very little trainer training is currently taking place).

Training advisers

The role of training adviser is also critical for the success of the training scheme and so we have a number of actions planned to raise the profile (and value) of Training Advisers, increasing the opportunities for TAs to network and receive information.

We will also be looking at ways to make the PLP and validation processes both clearer and simpler to undertake.

Online learning

An ongoing discussion is the balance between residential courses – which offer great opportunities to learn with others, plus discussions with peers and contacts – with the busy world we all live in and the demand to do training when it best suits us. In order to make learning as accessible as possible we will also look at:

  • Enabling access to online learning through mobile devices.
  • Providing online learning in 'bite-sized' chunks, which complements or supplements other learning methods (blended learning) or to provide refresher learning, which has already been done with the Module 7 video (Inclusion Matters) and the flexible volunteering videos, Thinking Differently About Volunteering, which can be found at scouts.org.uk/video.

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