Pam Thomas, Organisational Development Advisor at Nottingham College has written a blog about how the College rose to the challenge of hosting continuing professional development (CPD) events virtually. She talks about the range of activities that have taken place to far, what’s planned for staff during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and how we are supporting ‘Learn at Work’ Week with a host of resources, allowing staff to benefit from a range of learning opportunities from the comfort of their own homes.
When the world as we know it went into lockdown, many people thought that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) would be a casualty as traditionally activities have been centred around conferences, seminars and workshops; but NO! Nottingham College colleagues are not that easily defeated!
When it quickly became clear that there was still an appetite for CPD. We talked to colleagues internally and to external providers, and those who were technologically enabled rose to the challenge and before long a programme for a virtual CPD day emerged. Over a quarter of College staff were able to participate in events on-line with many more participating in team events and peer learning.
Hot on its heels followed a re-think of our Rolling Programme of Staff Development with teams across the College sourcing relevant training on-line for staff – much of it free of charge. There are almost 20 events on the current programme for week commencing 18th May alone with more being added daily.
National Learning at Work Week
18th – 24th May is National Learning at Work Week. Again, this event has ‘gone virtual’ with the slogan “on Air, Online”. In partnering with Learning at Work the college has been able to give staff access to a wide range of learning opportunities from the comfort of their own home. As well as events to support professional updating and digital upskilling there are resources to support those who are home-schooling. This is in addition to our Rolling Programme events and, resources on our Learner Management System (LMS) and Learning and Development Hub (staff moodle). We have also made it easy for staff to access the Government’s Skills Toolkit. Staff currently furloughed are able to benefit from the full range of CPD on offer.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Also happening this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This national event, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to support good mental health by awareness raising, support and research. Ordinarily across the College we would have a range of face to face activities for staff and students to be involved in. Yet again we have ‘gone virtual’ offering on-line events and promoting resources from within and outside the College; such as our Employee Assistance Programme, advice on managing anxiety from the Education Support Partnership, resources from the Association of Colleges and the NHS Every Mind Matters campaign, as well as resources from mental health charity MIND.
Our 'staff cafes' have gone virtual too!
We haven’t stopped there! Pre-lockdown the College had already progressed plans for a number of ‘Staff Cafes” to bring together staff with shared experiences to discuss, share and support one another, and to suggest ways in which the College might better support them to have fulfilling careers alongside managing some very personal challenges.
Two cafes were up and running when we went our separate ways – our Carers’ Café for colleagues with caring responsibilities for a family/household member with a disability or long term illness, and our Menopause Café supporting staff experiencing the perimenopause and menopause, either for themselves or wanting to support a partner or family member.
Aware that there may be an even greater need for support for staff in these groups due to the challenges presented by self-isolation, shielding, increased stress and anxiety at the present time the Cafes have also ‘gone virtual’. They continue to offer a safe space for staff to share their experiences and learn from one another.
If ever there was a time we could proudly say “we promote collaboration and integration through proactively working together across the whole organisation” it would be now!
Our message - Stay safe! Keep learning!