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Bespoke safeguarding training vs off-the-shelf courses

schedule 30th January 2018 by Felicity Bagshaw in Safeguarding

business people sat at table

When it comes to safeguarding training, both ready-made, off-the-shelf courses and completely bespoke, tailored courses, can achieve training objectives and encourage positive behavioural changes in learners. Deciding which learning path is most suitable for your organisation depends on a number of factors.

Off-the-shelf courses

There are undeniable benefits of off-the-shelf e-learning solutions. If they are designed well, this form of training can support your organisation and workforce in a variety of ways. As ready-made e-learning courses are ready to buy, organisations are able to get up and running with the bare minimum of setup time. The content, look and feel of the course and the assessment, have all been created by a trusted provider, with your sector in mind. Such solutions can be ideal when providing training on relatively general safeguarding subjects, as the courses will align with national legislation and guidance. They are also usually more affordable than most bespoke development projects, therefore often favoured by organisations with limited training budgets.

However, the inevitable downside is the fact that off-the-shelf training material will not be tailored to fit the specific needs of your organisation and workforce, meaning that the content within the courses may not necessarily meet your training goals as precisely and perfectly as a bespoke course would. If you feel that your safeguarding training requirements are too specific for an off-the-shelf option to address, then a bespoke approach may be more suitable for you.

Tailored training

The single biggest benefit of a custom-developed training programme is relevance to your organisation. With a bespoke project, you'll be able to tailor every single aspect of the course - from the look and feel of the content and the learning materials, right through to the choice of vocabulary and the values it embodies. A bespoke course allows the training to be mapped to your individual organisational needs. As your organisation will have full ownership, it will be possible to make changes, updates and revisions to your policies and procedures as and when necessary.

However, organisations which choose to go down this route should be prepared for investing time spent in getting this form of training up and running. Since bespoke training needs to be carefully designed to address specific learning outcomes, it can be challenging for companies that lack experience in e-learning development to realise the considerable benefits without the help of a trusted external partner.

Best of both worlds?

It is worth considering a blend of both off-the-shelf and bespoke, as many organisations decide to cherry pick the best of both to create a training offering that fits perfectly for their organisational needs.

For example, you might want to form a training programme that includes pre-packaged modules on best practice sector knowledge, with sections that detail how legislation and guidelines apply to your organisation; alternatively, pairing a mostly off-the-shelf programme with bespoke refresher resources, specific to your organisation and its processes, may meet all of your training needs.

It is also worth considering how each form of e-learning, off-the-shelf or bespoke, could support any face to face training events that you may offer. By adopting this blended approach, it should be possible to get the best of both worlds, combining the universality of off-the-shelf solutions with elements designed by Virtual College to meet your individual business needs.

How to decide?

Ultimately, the question of whether you should choose an off-the-shelf or a bespoke e-learning approach doesn't have a one-size-fits-all answer. The core training needs of your organisation and workforce need to be thoroughly considered to help you select the option that represents the best fit.

At Virtual College, we provide both off-the-shelf and bespoke courses depending on your requirements, so it's simply a matter of assessing your training objectives, your intended timescale, your budget and your resourcing availability, and we'll be able to consult with you to identify the best possible package to meet those criteria.

We can:

  • Make minor, yet significant changes to our existing range of catalogue courses, tailoring them to your organisation’s policies and procedures
  • Develop a course for your organisation based on our pool of existing templates, which have been created by our award winning graphic design team
  • Create a bespoke course for you which would be unique to your organisation and underpinned by specific pedagogical techniques that match your training requirements perfectly

We recently won gold for 'Excellence in the Design of Learning Content in the Public and Non-Profit Sector’ at the Learning Technologies Awards 2017 for our Recognising and Preventing FGM course which we developed in partnership with the Home Office.

A Home Office official commented: “Virtual College’s passion for the project and their understanding for the sensitivity of the subject, together with their experience of developing products for our target audience meant that the end product was innovative and tailored to the needs of the learners”

Whether you’re interested in exploring off-the-shelf options or bespoke themes to support your training and save valuable time, we’d love to hear from you. To discuss how we can help, please get in touch.


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Author: Felicity Bagshaw

Felicity is a Learning Technology Consultant who specialises in safeguarding training and developing digital learning solutions that create change and make an impact. Felicity is passionate about using technology for good and regularly highlights the role which learning technologies can play in making positive changes to working culture.

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