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UK Charity Week | Sinclair Method UK
Friday, 18 June 2021
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VIDEO | Learning at BPAS: a digital transformation

THE British Pregnancy Advisory Service has seen fantastic results from switching to a blended learning approach, using eLearning as well as other digital resources. Switching from classroom training has been popular with learners, has led to a significant reduction in spending and also increased scale, meaning more courses are supporting the knowledge and skills of more people at the charity. 

  • 95% of clinical training at BPAS is now delivered online
  • Training spend has gone from £300k pa to £94k pa
  • More courses have been delivered to more people
  • For example, several hundred people could access online safeguarding courses in a day 
  • Previously, approx 12 people a day might have gone through classroom training
  • BPAS has also saved money using video learning – find out how in the free to download eBook The little book of Video Learning 

Jacqueline Turley, Learning and Development Manager, joined the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in January 2020, not long before the covid pandemic hit. She was initially brought in to look at the charity’s learning and development strategy, revamp it and bring it in line with 21st-century thinking. 

Training was very traditional, delivered at a centre in middle England that everyone had to travel to. This was expensive, as it meant travel costs, overnight stays and subsistence, as well as time out of the office.

She explains: 

“We had quite an old-fashioned offering – it was very classroom and lecture-based – and we knew that needed to change.” 

When COVID hit, it meant the timescale for that change became urgent. Throughout the pandemic, all of the charity’s clinical staff still needed to keep renewing and refreshing their skills, but face to face training wasn’t an option.

Initially, Jacqueline and her small team looked at how they could separate knowledge from competency, skills and practice. What did the staff need to know to do their jobs? What skills did they need? How could they put that all into practice? And what could be delivered online?

They quickly transitioned all knowledge-based learning online. Skills workshops were also offered virtually via Teams and Zooms. Importantly, all lead nurses were also trained to become assessors so that when people took their knowledge back into the workplace, they were assessed at putting it all into practice. This was a groundbreaking new blended approach for the charity. 

A digital training specialist was brought on board to help this transformation. In the past, training had been classroom-based, listening to a lecturer with a PowerPoint. These PowerPoints were just a starting point for quickly creating a new style of eLearning to deliver knowledge.

Subject matter experts from throughout BPAS were still used to deliver content, but case studies, videos and quizzes were added. Optional voiceovers were also included, when appropriate, which learners can switch off if they’d rather just read the content. 

Good quality free resources from trusted organisations like the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and the Royal College of Nursing were also incorporated. The eLearning was then uploaded to the learning management system (LMS) provided by the Charity Learning Consortium

As the approach was so new and the change so rapid, there was some apprehension from everyone at BPAS as to how this would work. But everyone accepted that it was essential to find a way to ensure that clinical people were still getting their training throughout the pandemic. 

The benefits of doing this have been far-reaching. Using eLearning means that everyone hears and sees the same information and goes through the same learning experience. Those who had been furloughed have also been able to access eLearning and other resources on the LMS, enabling them to keep up to date. The charity has also saved valuable funds that can be ploughed into providing services for their users. 

In the financial year 2019-20, approximately £300k was spent on training at BPAS. This was reduced to £94k the following year when more training was also delivered. For a topic like safeguarding, for example, 200 to 300 people could access online courses in a day. Previously, approximately 12 people a day might have attended a classroom course. 

People have also preferred this way of learning – it means they don’t have to spend time away from home, and they report feeling more competent at what they’re doing.

Jacqueline said:

“They love the blended approach, rather than the room-based lecture approach that we’ve always done in the past.” 

The pandemic has been a real catalyst for a switch to digital at BPAS, as well as people’s acceptance of this change. A blended approach has been such a success that approximately 95% of its clinical training is now online, and new courses in topics like management development now also follow this model.

Jacqueline Turley is the Learning and Development Manager at British Pregnancy Advisory Service. She was interviewed by Michelle Parry-Slater for a charity spotlight on Learning Now TV. Read more great charity learning case studies at charitylearning.org. 

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