Safeguarding course virtually, by Helen Clark.

Were there any challenges to running the course?

  • The setup of the course was tricky, as being via current course finder, there was just an enquiry sent through. I did all the bookings with the candidates manually to ensure everything was OK, especially ensuring the under 18’s consent forms (online consent form was created prior to course with HQ overview) were all completed before the course, which we sent out via email to the candidates.
  • We used Zoom to run the presentations and Google Classroom as the workbook, so I could see the candidates were engaging with the process, and participating fully in the questioning. I have used WebEx for some training previously, but it was not as user-friendly for trainer or candidate.
  • There was three of us running the course. I lead the course, Murray Robb and Alan Whyte ran breakout rooms at the same time updating their own safeguarding. I would certainly recommend other trainers used experienced colleagues (not necessarily Safeguarding Officers) to run the break-out sessions, as it made it much easier for me, especially as this group had a significant number of younger candidates.
  • Making sure that the candidates knew the protocols for being heard i.e. when I was running the introductions getting them to realise they couldn’t all speak at once, and also, as you may have noticed yourself, the images move around the screen, so I had the register beside me so everyone was given the chance to be involved, I did not miss anybody.
  • We agreed that at the end of the course, we would stay on the Zoom session until all the candidates had left the room, this ensured we protected everyone as our combined duty of care to the candidates.
  • I used my laptop for the main presentation and logged in to Google Classroom on my iPad to watch what was taking place, it allowed me to have a good overview of everything going on.
  • I used my phone to keep in contact with colleagues; when we were in the breakout rooms, we used phones to text each other as a trainer team to ensure everything was running smoothly, and we also all felt supported which was definitely helpful.
  • I insisted that the younger candidates did the course in a public area of the house, not in their bedrooms, to protect them if matters became a little overwhelming during the activities.
  • Breakout rooms were essential for group discussions and the ability to then come back as whole group and feedback. Especially when groups may have looked at slightly different things, eg different case studies reviewing one and four while the other group reviewed two and six, for arguments sake.

Things I will make sure I do next time.

  • Test the volume before I start presentation videos to ensure it’s working (you need to switch it on!).
  • The training normally includes one break as it can last up to four hours, but I would recommend including an additional break, both for the trainer(s) and the candidates, as the course is much more sedentary on Zoom, no-one moving around to get into the smaller groups for the activities.
  • Breakout room set up done in advance - although it looked like we had done it, we hit a snag initially which made us run a few minutes late taking everyone into the presentation.

Were there any disadvantages of running the course this way?

I have to say that you can feel a little out of control doing it this way, as it is easier to assess body language etc. when you are fully together, it’s also easier to manage timings.

I would suggest no more than eight candidates if you only have yourself to deliver everything as one person might be unable to manage breakout rooms (you would have no idea what was happening if you didn’t have someone in there that was experienced and you trusted.)

Ideally, I would like the first course to be run face-to-face, as it allows for a more personal interaction but also,  to get the disclosure forms completed at the same time, rather than chasing people for forms for weeks afterwards. I think doing the renewals this way would be brilliant and allows for those living in rural areas to access the course with ease, and no travel burdens.

Using the best platform is essential, as there is a need for ‘break-out rooms’ to enable discussion in smaller groups around the activities. I used Google Classroom for the activities and questionnaires, and Zoom for the presentations, which were not restricted to the free 45-minute sessions due to current teacher access.

What were the advantages of doing it this way?

The ability to train anyone from across RLSS UK, no matter where they were. Also, the ability to run it for a bigger number of candidates than usual as there were no restrictions on venue sizes, so long as you have adequate support for running the activities. There were no room fees, travel expenses, refreshment costs, and the opportunity to ‘meet’ others from distant regions, they would not normally engage with.

Would you run another like this?

Yes I would, and I would be happy to support someone else running one.