Have you ever wondered what the real value of a staff training programme is?

Have you ever been concerned that the learning will start to disappear as soon as your staff return to work, the very place where they need to apply what they’ve learned?

One of the common problems with some training programmes is that they fail to motivate the learner to take what they’ve learned on the course back to their day to day job and apply it to create positive changes in their working practice and approach.

At Athena we understand that change has to take place on a PERSONAL level to make a significant difference to a learner’s future working practices and attitudes. This is especially crucial in the area of safeguarding, where vulnerable groups are dependent on others – your staff – taking appropriate action to make them safe. It is also important that any safeguarding training triggers a heightened awareness of risk that is maintained in the workplace long after the training event has been delivered.

It is often commented that too many training courses focus on theoretical learning and not practical application, and that this type of training event doesn’t make a real difference to people’s performances when they get back to work. So how can you maximise the impact of your training and increase the chance that it will have the desired effect back in the workplace? How can you make sure learning is transferred?

Here are some tips that we use at The Athena Programme to make our training real, relevant and have a lasting impact on learners:

  • Any learning needs to be closely related to practice, so your first port of call should be to find out exactly what your learners do and the operational issues that concern them.
  • Design your training course content, style and exercises around what is “real life” for participants i.e. form links between the training and their work.
  • Use real life examples from your learners’ typical working day to illustrate any points you make. This is particularly crucial if you’re trying to deliver complex information or theories that participants might see as irrelevant or divorced from their own lives.
  • If the training is in-house, or if you have specific knowledge about the subject, you can use examples from your own experience to explain a particular point. This will make the material “real” and also give you added credibility as an expert.
  • Ask learners to share their own stories or experiences in similar situations.  Your learners will feel valued and this process of reflective practice will get your group talking and discussing the issues from their own, very real, perspectives. And don’t forget – keep it positive; ask for examples of how they have overcome challenges or had successes (large or small).
  • Use case studies – case studies are a fantastic resource you can use to make your training directly relevant to participants. If you do your research well you can pick some scenarios that have really happened in the organisation and base your case studies on actual events (anonymising them of course). Case studies are a safe way to “practice” a response to a real problem or situation in a controlled way. You can even get participants to write their own and then pick the most relevant one to work on – the options are endless.
  • Ask participants how they are going to put what they have learned into practice.  You can do this either by asking them to do Individual Action Plans, what they are going to do differently as a result of the training and what they have learned that is new or particularly pertinent to them.
  • Don’t leave Action Planning till the end of the day when participants are tired and focused on going home. Take 5 minutes at the end of each exercise to reflect on what participants have learned and how the learning will change their current practice.
  • Allow time for individual reflection and for group and pair discussion as you go through the course so there is plenty of opportunity for people to think about what to do next.
  • Evaluate – a good Evaluation Questionnaire at the end of the training event can really get participants thinking about exactly what has made an impact on them through the training, and can help consolidate and concretise their learning.
  • Send out follow – up questionnaires asking participants how they have put ideas into practice or what difference the training has made to them. Ask what barriers may have prevented them from putting these things into practice or what further support they need to help them. This can help to show up any internal barriers in the organisation, such as lack of resources or management support, which have an impact on their performance. This is useful evidence if anyone suggests that your training hasn’t made any difference when the problem lies elsewhere.


The Athena Programme is a team of experienced professionals specialising in safeguardingwith care and creativity.  Our goal is to help people protect children, young people and vulnerable adults and to make organisations, staff and working environments safer by providing training and consultancy that is dynamic, inclusive and relevant.

Call us now on 01200 428769.