Face to face vs virtual?
It has been a delight recently to spend three days teaching face-to-face in Carlisle. It was also really interesting as this is the first opportunity I have had to deliver face-to-face a course which is exactly the same as the course that has been delivered virtually on zoom. This has given me a real opportunity to reflect on virtual and face-to-face training and which is best?
There is no doubt nothing beats being in the room with people scanning around to check how people are – especially in a safeguarding training. It is easier to pick up nuances of body language and expression when you are with people.
I have noticed that face to face it is easier to hold the room in silence for a while – in this training we have a very powerful testimony from a survivor of abuse and the opportunity to listen to that together and spend some time reflecting is very special in the room.
Of course, we don’t have issues with Wi-Fi coming and going but you can’t so you don’t have IT issues – we all know turning up somewhere and finding that your laptop won’t speak to the projector!
So in summary it was great to be face to face and lots of positives!
However, the move to virtual training forced by the pandemic has raised some benefits we probably weren’t aware of.
It is possible to make virtual training extremely accessible – for example somebody with motor neuron disease has chosen to attend this session virtually as it is much easier for them to do at home.
In the same way several learners with hearing difficulties have told me they much prefer at the virtual platforms as you can have a transcript of what is being said. You can also ask the trainer to pin themselves on speaker view making lip reading easier.
There is also the practicality – for a shorter session people can sometimes spend as long driving to and from a venue as they do at the training. There is also the reduction in cost to attend the training as fuel and parking are not an issues.
On a really practical level – should there have to be a last-minute cancellation of a session due to trainer illness and this is much easier when it’s a virtual platform – thankfully this doesn’t happen often but can be a benefit.
As I said earlier the training that we have been doing is Safeguarding – and as always we are very careful to make the environment as safe as we can for those who are survivors of abuse, or who might find this topic difficult for any number of reasons.
Several survivors have fed back to us that they prefer accessing the training virtually – if they feel the need to take a moment it’s much easier to turn off the camera than it is to leave a room. They also feel more relaxed in the comfort of their own home.
So… It would seem that both face-to-face and virtual training have their place… it is important at this point to differentiate between virtual - when you are in a ‘virtual’ room with the trainer and take part in the group exercises and interactions – and ‘on line’ which to me means a pre set course you work through at your own speed at a time of your choosing.
For some courses, blended learning has worked well – for example I ran a Designated Safeguarding Lead training for a day nursery locally. We did a short introductory session by zoom, the participants worked through some work at home, then we had a face to face session. This was a great way to meet different learning styles and preferences.
So it feels to me as if both face to face and virtual have their strengths and it is a case by case decision as to which is best.
Practice what you preach! Updating my own learning
In line with the recommendations I make to my clients, alongside a regular programme of personal CPD I also renew key courses every 3 years. So, the end of January, I was welcomed onto a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) course with a group of teachers undertaking the training via Zoom.
It was really useful to be reminded of key documents which relate to the role of the DSL. There was a useful update on legislation and I was particularly reminded that ‘upskirting’ is now a criminal offence.
‘The criminal offence of ‘upskirting’ was created under the Voyeurism Act when it received Royal Assent in February. Police and prosecutors have now updated their guidance to ensure the law is properly enforced – with offenders facing up to 2 years in jail and being placed on the sex offenders register.’
Many of you will be aware of the rise in Domestic Abuse during the pandemic. The law has now changed in relation to Domestic Abuse. I think we will all welcome a legal definition of domestic abuse which recognises children as victims in their own right.
New criminal offences include post-separation coercive control, non-fatal strangulation, and threats to disclose private sexual images.
There are various other changes which are summarised at:
Alongside this change to the law, is the increasing concern about individuals with no recourse to public funds who find themselves in an abusive relationship. More information can be found at:
I enjoyed working with others on the course looking at the case studies. It was interesting to see how schools manage safeguarding – there is much is common with the early years and voluntary sectors but of course some differences. It was good to see we all shared the focus on the child and the child’s wellbeing, even if some processes were different. It was also interesting to see that there is a wider understanding that sometimes we will be working with adults at risk as well as the children in our care.
So a useful session and I hope this update is useful for you.
Safeguarding – are we doing it right?
When I am training on safeguarding I often get asked by organisations:
‘How can we check what we’re doing is okay… can we carry out some kind of audit?’
There are many audit tools available but a very simple way to check out what you want doing might be to use some learning from the NSPCC.
The NSPCC have produced a briefing identifying learning from Serious Case Reviews. This can be found here.
Although the information in this was drawn from serious case reviews involving early years settings, I could see that the information and the suggestions would be really useful for anybody involved in safeguarding.
Some key points/suggestions from my reading of this:
- Organisations need to have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place, so people know what they need to do with any concerns
- Organisations need to make sure that staff and volunteers can recognise and identify indicators of child abuse – or indeed abuse of adults at risk – and that if someone is concerned it is very clear who they report to.
Those of you who have been on training with me will know how I often advocate the use of a flowchart – a simple way to make sure that staff or volunteers can see visually what they should do if they are concerned.
The report picks up the theme of professional curiosity – finding out a bit more about children’s home environment and the experience outside the setting. Again, this is something many of you will have heard me talk about before – think round the situation a bit and ask yourself questions like…what if?...What about?
- The importance of training and regular supervision is highlighted. One of my recent blogs found here highlights good practice round safeguarding training. However busy you are, supervision is key and time must be allowed to discuss safeguarding issues.
The final theme is information sharing information – both in a setting and between agencies. It includes some really good learning about what to do if concerns which have been escalated are not picked up.
So I would really recommend taking a few moments to read this report and using it as a tool to audit your practice. As always, I am happy to help in any way I can.