3rd July 2020
As lockdown rules are relaxed this weekend and we witness thousands of people all over the UK return back to the workplace, we were keen to catch up with Jason, one of our Learning Support Coaches who has recently attended his first client visit since lockdown rules were enforced in March. Here’s what he had to tell us.
Q. What preparation did you do for your first client visit since the March lockdown?
A. A lot of preparation was completed before going out to the client; for obvious reasons I never realised how much needs to be considered in a situation like this. Firstly, we spoke to the employer to ensure we had the correct measures in place to safeguard both the learners and me. We had agreed to a specific room within the building which would be dedicated to the visit. After speaking to my family and my Line Manager it was agreed that I would stay in a hotel close to the site and complete my visits over a few days, a measure taken to protect my family and the learners, and to minimise the amount of travel involved. With the help of my Line Manager we found and booked a hotel dedicated to key workers and once the hotel had checked that the work due to take place at the employer’s site was what we said it was, everything was confirmed, and I was on my way.
Q. How did InterLearn make sure you were prepared for the visit?
A. We looked at everything and considered what was needed from the moment I left the house to the moment I returned. We booked ‘off peak’ train times in the hope that minimal people would be travelling during these times, which would be safer for me. The hotel which we booked, was very close to the site I was working at, making it easy to access through pre-booked taxis. I was also given a COVID-19 risk assessment checklist, which was to be completed once I arrived at the site, ensuring the employer’s premises were suitably safe and the learning could take place. I was given masks and gloves by my Manager and it was confirmed with the employer that the correct PPE would be given when on site. Two of the senior managerial team at InterLearn, Linda and Hayley, made sure I felt safe and kept in touch with me throughout the whole time I was there.
Q. Had the learners been on furlough? If so, how did they feel about being back on site?
A. All of the learners had been on furlough leave, but were slowly being reintroduced to work to ensure there were still fewer people onsite at any one time. Learners were definitely worried and anxious, but this visibly eased once they saw the robust measures that were implemented on site. Despite the slight change to their shifts, they were glad to be back at work and were happy to resume a bit of normality.
Q. Did they seem happier to receive training in person as opposed to virtually?
A. I had been in touch with the learners while they were on furlough, but a lot of them had said they preferred their learning to be completed face-to-face. It was great to see them work towards their goals and it was also wonderful to be able to complete tasks and sign them off immediately.
Q. Did you have to do anything differently before the client visit took place?
A. There were a number of things that had to be completed before I was able to enter the building. I was given a temperature check at reception and full PPE was provided. We have always had to wear the infamous orange jumpsuit, but in addition to this I was given gloves and a mask. There were strict guidelines to follow while on site and these rules meant that I had to remain in my own ‘bubble’ keeping a 2-metre distance from everyone. There was a one-way system which we had to follow, and hand sanitisers were distributed throughout the building. Before making the visits, we had already prepared a full week’s timetable, so the employer and my learners would have complete visibility of their time slots and the location where I would be based. This helped tremendously as it meant learners could be released to complete their learning, but also helped manage the social distancing rules.
Q. How did you find the experience travelling on public transport?
A. We’d already agreed that I would travel during ‘off peak’ times, with the view that there would be fewer people, which definitely helped. Travelling for the first time in months felt strange, but the London underground was extremely clean. We had to wear face masks, and no one was authorised to sit inside the station. The trains were spotless and everyone within the station was respecting the social distancing rules, by adhering to the one-way system that was in place. I have to admit, wearing the face mask for that length of time was not the most comfortable of things, but it did give me peace of mind that others were doing the same and I had to remind myself that this was for our own protection.
Q. How does the face-to-face interaction with the learner differ to classes that were completed virtually?
A. It is a lot more personable. I found that a lot of the learners were more reactive when learning was done face-to-face. A lot of the learners did not have access to a computer at home, so they felt slightly limited to what could be achieved. We were able to complete the work, upload the assignments onto OneFile and sign-off the completed tasks immediately, it was also great for the learners to physically see the progress being made in real time!
Q. Does the OneFile online portfolio support with the remote learning? Did you use Teams before returning face-to-face? Did that help?
A. OneFile is great as it helps support the Learning Support Coach, by giving focus and completing any outstanding work by using the gap analysis function on the dashboard. As mentioned before, I have been in touch with the learners throughout the whole of COVID-19, continuing with virtual ‘visits’. This form of contact was maintained mainly through phone calls and occasionally through Microsoft Teams, which helped tremendously. I feel the combination of both face-to-face delivery and virtual training has merits and the approach of learning depends heavily on the learner and the facilities they have available.
Q. Was the overall experience a positive one? What would you recommend for anyone who is in a similar situation and about to complete their first face-to-face visit with their client?
A. Absolutely, 100%! It was so great to see the reactions of both the employer and the learners, they were extremely grateful for the efforts we made, and it was also wonderful to witness so much being achieved in such a short space of time. For anyone else in a similar situation, I would say, keep calm, don’t panic and would highly recommend that you complete your research beforehand. If there is anything that this experience has taught me, it’s that preparation is key!
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