Span Training and Development Ltd is a leading Government funded training provider operating in the South of England, with over 30 years’ experience in vocational training and apprenticeships. They facilitate apprenticeships and traineeships in Hairdressing and Childcare, and have recently launched Business Apprenticeships in Team Leading, Business Admin and Management. Span Training work with over 380 learners in over 140 workplaces around the UK, and are committed to providing high quality customer service, and bespoke training that meets employers and learner needs, alongside regional demands, Ofsted, awarding body and ESFA requirements.
SAFE, SECURE AND EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
Prior to using app technology, the training provider used emails, phone calls, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger to communicate with learners. Direct communications through phone calls to learners were time consuming and long-winded. Using social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in an education setting, especially when it comes to messaging under 18s, had the potential to expose them to security and safety issues.
Span Training wanted a solution that would enable flexible communication between their staff and learners, reducing learner isolation. Creating a support network was essential, as their learners were based across 8 counties and seen face-to-face typically once every 4-8 weeks by staff. Span Training had a responsibility not only to communicate effectively with their learners, but also the employers they work with.
They realised there must be a better way, and that’s where the Tribal Engage app comes in. Through using the Tribal Engage app, they were able to keep the benefits and convenience of social media messaging, with the safeguarding and privacy of technology that is monitored in-house. Span Training quickly moved on from using WhatsApp and Facebook, they worked with the Tribal Engage team and developed their own app with in-house branding – they decided to call the app CloudSpace.
Span Training implemented the CloudSpace app in 2018 and have experienced the app functionality go from strength to strength over the years. They use their app predominately for private messaging between learners, staff and employers.
Christina Murphy-Wakelin, Programmes and Training Manager at Span Training said:
“We have found app communication is what works for our learners. The app is really applicable to Span Training as the training and apprenticeships we offer include remote, workplace and flexible learning. That instant ability to connect and communicate is really crucial in a training provider setting, since face-to-face contact can be rare, messaging is our way to build relationships and facilitate quick responses in a professional way.”
From a March 2020 feedback survey of learners and staff using the app, Span Training found that:
- 77% of learners use the app on a weekly basis
- 100% of staff and learners felt safe using the app
- 67% of learners believe the app has improved their study/work
- 70% of learners think the app has made study/work easier
Christina Murphy-Wakelin at Span Training continued:
We now use our CloudSpace app as the only method of communication with our learners and apprentices, it has completely revolutionised our communications strategy as a training provider. It has reduced untracked email communication and has made working life easier for our administration staff. It has improved assessment achievement as learners can request and receive training materials instantly (within the day) to help them succeed.”
Through an allocated support group within the app, learners undertaking End Point Assessments (EPA’s) were able to support one another and form a remote community. The app also has the ability to easily facilitate group chats between learners working for the same employer, so they can connect, share best practice and resources.
CONNECTING LEARNERS AND STAFF DURING CHALLENGING TIMES
The app has enabled learners to stay connected during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. The app became the most obvious way for Span Training to communicate, with messaging numbers doubling once lockdown was instated and approximately 5,500 total messages exchanged in June 2020.
The lockdown restrictions implemented in March 2020 affected the Hairdressing and Childcare industries, with many businesses closing their doors and furloughing staff. It was crucial for Span Training’s learners and apprentices to be kept up-to-date, through messaging on the app, with recent guidance for their specific industry and from their employer. The CloudSpace app allowed Span Training’s staff to easily share updates and important announcements with their entire learner cohort in just a click of a button. In the months since lockdown was announced their communications team shared updates including Coronavirus guidance, exams updates, congratulating learners on results, wellbeing ideas and revision inspiration. Hairdressing apprentices who weren’t able to practice their skill on clients, used their family members to practice their styling techniques, and shared photos via the app showing good practice methods.
Christina Murphy-Wakelin at Span Training said:
The CloudSpace app has been our central communication hub this year, it has been fundamental to communicate when working at a distance and will be crucial in our strategy moving forward to support a new cohort of learners in a challenging and ever-changing world. The Span Training team are now extremely comfortable with the app and are brilliant at using it to frequently communicate with their learners.”
The Span Training staff were working from home during lockdown, and were unable to access their computer database systems or paperwork remotely. The CloudSpace app proved crucial as its content is accessible anywhere. The Span Training team can share documents with their learners safely and securely, using the app as an electronic learner file with an accessible record of communications. The messages and documents recorded in the app can be accessed, saved and submitted as part of their funding evidence.
Prior to lockdown, their learners would travel to meet for in person training days, meeting in groups with assessors and learners from the same industry. These training days were cancelled and while social distancing measures remain in place, they do not expect to be able to return to training venues. Through app communication, Span Training were able to still develop learners skills by regularly sharing remote live training sessions through Zoom and Nearpod. They also used the app to share details of team lead meetings, online events, tutorials and off-the-job learning guidance.
In challenging times the mental health of learners is something training providers and employers need to support. Within the app there are built in alerts to notify safeguarding teams if learners were to message language signalling depression, or other issues learners may need support with:
Christina Murphy-Wakelin at Span Training said:
I was recently messaging a learner whose response indicated they were struggling to cope, within only 10 minutes our safeguarding team was notified by the app, and the learner had been contacted and given support. The responsiveness enabled by the app really is amazing! Unfortunately without a monitored app, this warning sign of depression may have been lost and our learner may have been left unsupported.”
RE-ENGAGING LEARNERS FOR FUTURE SUCCESS
In the months ahead Span Training are striving to diversify their training offering, to grow back their business which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. With the unfortunate rise of unemployment in England, young people are emerging disengaged with their careers and ready to reengage with training and learning. Span Training want to be there to facilitate this and help train a new generation of the UK workforce.
By the end of 2020, they will have relaunched the CloudSpace app to their learners, and aim to create more pages, including topic-based pages relevant to employment and FAQ’s. They would also like to share more video content with their learners and have a plan to produce in-house videos.
When asked about their experience working with the Tribal team, Christina Murphy-Wakelin, Programmes and Training Manager at Span Training concluded:
Simply put, the Tribal team are absolutely fantastic to work with. Tribal Engage app has supported us through a transformative time over recent months, and enabled us to communicate better than ever before with our learners. Our aim for our app is for learners to be able to easily access information and support so they can build the independence they need for employment. We want to continue to use our app to strengthen relationships with learners, staff, and employers, and to ensure communication is effective and efficient.”