Child protection learning and development 2024: national framework

Framework to support multi-agency learning and development relevant to child protection in Scotland. This highlights key learning for all workforces according to the level of responsibility they have for child protection.

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Section 4: Designing, delivering and evaluating learning

4.1 This section provides guidance to support learning and development practitioners to plan, deliver and, importantly, evaluate their learning events, exploring ways to support practitioners to develop the competencies, knowledge and skills required for practice. This includes identifying learning needs, ensuring access to learning and practice development.

Learning needs analysis

4.2 Identifying and analysing learning needs: it is important that workforce learning and development needs are identified, and solutions found to ensure all staff have access to relevant learning in order to effectively fulfil their roles and responsibilities. In child protection terms, this should be in alignment with the minimum key learning for each workforce identified in Section 3 above.

4.3 Periodically, this may mean consideration of a learning needs analysis to check levels of understanding and confidence across all four workforce groups, in order to carry out their role and duty of care. Equally, it may identify gaps in knowledge or skills which need to be addressed to ensure workforce groups are able to fulfil responsibilities for child protection.

4.4 A learning needs analysis should identify any gaps between existing competencies, knowledge and skills in this area of practice. It should also help single agencies, CPC partnerships, managers, and learning and development providers to examine the key learning requirements and address gaps. It may also help workers to identify relevant training completed or yet to be undertaken, in line with their own Continuing Professional Development or Post Registration Training and Learning processes and similar processes for other professional groups and registration requirements.

Adult learning theory

4.5 Planning and preparing a learning event – all groups attending learning events will be made up of people who learn in a different way. Adults generally learn better when they can see a reason or relevance to why they are required to undertake particular learning. Before beginning to design, deliver and develop training, learning and development professionals need to be mindful of accommodating the different ways in which adults learn.

4.6 Kolb's Learning Cycle (see diagram below) is a good starting point to better understand what needs to be considered in thinking about the different ways in which individuals learn. The cycle shows how learning is a continuing process. Individual learners may lean towards a preferred style within the cycle but, according to Kolb's theory, learning is most effective when they have progressed through each stage. Therefore, child protection learning and practice development opportunities will want to accommodate the various learning styles that will be represented within learning groups and this is likely to be evidenced through the evaluation process. The diagram below should help visual learners better understand Kolb's Learning Cycle.

4.7 There are other schools of thought on learning styles which learning and development colleagues may want to read more about in preparation and planning for any learning event.

Context and inclusion

4.8 Learning and development practitioners will be aware that, aside from different learning styles, participants will potentially have additional support needs. Delivery of learning events should encompass a wide range of learning needs, to maximise participation and engagement. This will include, for example, consideration of visual/audio supports, description of any graphics used, consideration of the use of colour for any practitioners/learners who are dyslexic or colour-blind and support for staff who use English as a second language. There will be other examples of learning needs in the workforce and learning and development teams will require systems that can identify and accommodate these as far as is possible. It is also worth noting how learning and development teams become aware of any such learning needs and the responsibility of the learner to raise any needs they have with their learning and development team. Some guidance on accessibility can be found in Appendix D.

4.9 The role of 'lived experience' in learning and development: reflective practice and listening to people who have beeninvolved with services can teach us a lot. The Promise emphasised the importance of understanding the impact of our practice on children and families. Within learning events, highlighting the experiences of those who have been involved with our systems and services is a powerful reminder to practitioners to be mindful of this and will enhance participants' understanding of best and effective ways of working with families.

4.10 Including and involving people with lived experiences in the design and delivery of learning events is also a powerful learning tool. This can be done through pre-recorded video and audio clips, quotes, personal accounts or direct involvement in presentation, co-design and co-delivery of learning. A caveat to this would be that this has to be done ethically, using a trauma-informed approach, with some benefit to the person sharing their personal experiences, views and thoughts about practice improvement.

4.11 This is a reminder to learning and development practitioners about self-care. The content of learning may touch on sensitive matters which remind both participants and facilitators of difficult experiences in their own lives. Being trauma-informed, facilitators will want to make sure both they and their participants are aware of how to access support to process their emotions.

Delivery of learning events

4.12 The format for delivery of learning and development is often a question of what the topic of learning is, who is learning and what are the required levels of knowledge or skills being demonstrated. Within child protection, multi-agency learning and development has a key role in building a common understanding and fostering positive working relationships between practitioners and agencies. This multi-agency perspective is vital to transfer into effective child protection practice. Shared learning makes a positive contribution to shared practice, supporting the sound professional judgement essential to assessment of risk and protection.

4.13 Practical tips for planning, delivering and evaluation of learning and development should include these key questions:

  • trauma-informed practice is a key baseline for all learning, so good self-care for participants should be considered
  • know the who, what, where, when and why this event is being offered – know your materials, anticipate issues arising
  • ensure your technical equipment is working and that you have access to necessary internet connections

A full list of practical tips for planning, delivering and evaluating learning and development can be found in Appendix B.

4.14 Some learning may need skills practice, which is often best done in a face-to face format. Whereas when the main presentation is information-giving, this may equally be done online or digitally. In recent times, learning and development has, by design and often by necessity, made good use of technology, delivering digital courses that offer flexibility about when it can be undertaken. While all types of delivery have advantages, some may also have limitations, and it is the skill of the learning and development facilitator to determine the most effective approach to take.

4.15 There are many options for delivery of learning that can be used flexibly, within (or as a prelude or follow up to) formal learning events (see below). Some of these options involve the use of more experienced practitioners in supporting new or less-experienced colleagues e.g. in coaching or mentoring roles. These particular practices support the skills of both practitioners involved e.g. building skills and confidence for the experienced worker looking towards post-qualifying practice teaching/education, or towards a promoted post involving supervision of staff, and building relational support for the less-experienced worker benefitting from a colleague's more extensive work experience.

4.16 In addition to more formal learning events, learning and development teams may also want to consider the use of these approaches:

  • e-learning modules
  • 7-minute briefings or practice briefing notes (PDFs or delivered)
  • practice development sessions (lead by peers or frontline staff)
  • reflective logs or discussion groups
  • topic-based network lunches
  • coaching and mentoring
  • shadowing colleagues in different services
  • blogs and podcasts
  • weekly/monthly digital learning and development bulletins
  • cascaded learning events and training-for-trainers events
  • digital and technology-based tools e.g. virtual goggles, SWAY, Articulate Rise
  • Action Learning Sets
  • Communities of Practice (local or across geographical areas).

Evaluating the impact of learning on practice

4.17 The goal of all training, learning and development activity is to support learners to improve their knowledge, understanding and competence in carrying out their role – and, ultimately, in child protection terms, to improve the safety and wellbeing of children at risk of harm. Best learning and development practice is that all learning activities should be evaluated to establish how well they achieve this goal.

4.18 Child Protection and Public Protection Committees have a responsibility to ensure effective workforce development and should therefore have an oversight of evaluation activity. Individual agencies and workers have a role in making sure evaluation takes place and should see participating in evaluation activity as an important part of their contribution to service improvement.

4.19 Effective evaluation of learning and development can take time and resources. To make best use of these, it is useful to consider the following points when designing evaluations:

  • who is the evaluation for and what do they want to know?
  • what kind of information is being sought?
  • how is the information going to be gathered, analysed and used going forward?
  • how do I ensure the information acquired is accurate and meaningful?

4.20 An evaluation model can provide a useful framework for designing effective evaluations. The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model has proven to be applicable across all sectors and to different kinds of learning and development activity. A detailed exploration of this model and its potential application to routine child protection learning and development activity and goals can be found in Appendix C. Please note there are other models available and the use of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model here is not prescriptive.

4.21 Alongside evaluation, the learner experience and impact on practice, Child Protection or Public Protection Committees should develop a framework of Quality Indicators through which to measure the quality of learning materials and the extent to which they reflect the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 – updated 2023 as well as this National Framework for Child Protection Learning and Development.

Role of supervision in learning and development

4.22 It is important to bear in mind that learning and development is not limited to, nor always requires, formal learning events or training courses. Much of our learning comes from direct observation, action and reflection within supportive and reflective practice. This will happen both formally and informally, within a regular and reliable supervision system, supporting practitioners to think about how to engage and work effectively with colleagues, as well as with children and families. This is skill development in itself. See page 44 of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 – updated 2023 for more information on supervision.

4.23 Work-based learning through reflective discussion, critical reflection and/or peer and manager support, leads to the cascade of learning and development, within which, routine and formal supervision plays a significant part. Supervision can also add to the evaluation of learning events through reflective analysis of learning and how this will apply to practice. This is the primary task in evaluation of any learning sessions related to knowledge, understanding and skills for practice.

4.24 Access to child protection learning and development: all local authorities will have a multi-agency child protection (or public protection) learning and development calendar of learning opportunities aligned to the local CPC priorities. This is usually made available to all relevant agencies within the local authority (including partnership agencies, Third Sector agencies and some independent agencies) and to workers with different roles (including those having contact with children, young people and other family members). Single agency learning and development can also form part of the overall picture of child protection learning and development, particularly where there are specialist areas of knowledge required.

4.25 In summary, best practice is more likely to be achievable if we ensure that all involved in child protection have access to high quality advice, support and supervision, identifying learning and development needs, evaluating learning provision and developing skills to provide an effective service. This ensures that the workforce is valued and that procedures are in place to promote good standards of practice. It also requires that those providing supervision are themselves well-supported in implementing good and effective supervision.

4.26 The diagram below (adapted from the NFCPLD 2012, page 25), may help learning and development practitioners set out the key processes in designing and planning events.



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