Sally Eaton begins a three-part series designed to support managers and leaders who are considering providing some in-house training for their staff.

In-house training is the most affordable way to develop your whole staff team. In this series of three articles we will start by looking at the logistics of organising and preparing a training session. In the second article we will look at how to deliver a training session and finally, in article three, put the theory into practice by planning a model training session for delivering to staff on the subject of ‘being a team player’.

Taking up the challenge of training others

As the headteacher of a primary school I wanted the children in Year 2 to learn to play the recorder. However, I didn’t have a teacher on my staff who could play the instrument. I asked the Year 2 teacher if she would accept the challenge of learning to play the recorder herself and then teach the children what she had just learned. She only had to be one week ahead of them!

Many nursery leaders are fearful of embarking upon the delivery of a staff training session because they do not believe they possess the necessary knowledge or skills. I would suggest that in order to train others what is important is that you should be willing to learn and then pass on that learning to others, and so you only need to be ‘one week ahead’ of those you are instructing.

Being an expert is not essential but learning for yourself and then feeling enthused and motivated to pass this new knowledge or experience on to others is all that is required.

Key elements to delivering a successful training session

1. Research well. Know your subject and collect relevant data. 2. Be well organised. Organise your thoughts and be sure that you estimate accurately the time each part of your training session will take. 3. Vary the activities during the session to ensure that you keep your audience with you. 4. Be clear about the resources you will need and are available to you. Have your resources readily to hand.

5. Give consideration to the layout of the room and your delegates’ basic needs.

Researching your training focus

The internet is a great source of information that can be used to research your subject. Government websites provide childcare legislation and new legal requirements. You can find statistics and articles from the trade press, and other background information from online talks and chat rooms.

In addition, books, magazines, videos and talks from childcare experts should all be explored for details relevant to your subject.

Organising your material

Once you have gathered information together you need to sort and categorise it. One of the best ways to organise your thoughts is by using mind mapping. There are two useful website to help you to learn how to do this:

Through mind mapping you can see how ideas hang together and what the various strands of learning will be. When you have completed your mind map you will probably have the title for each section of the training session. You may even find that you have enough for two sessions! You can now build a framework for the training to fit into.

Building a training session framework

Section 1: Welcome, safety information, introductions and icebreaker activities.
Section 2: Outline the plan for the session and why it is needed (objectives). (This is often referred to as ‘Telling them what you are going to tell them’.)
Section 3: The teaching/training session (called ‘Telling them’). This will include a variety of learning activities and approaches.
Section 4: Summary (called ‘Telling them what you’ve told them’). This is an opportunity to consolidate the learning and give staff information that helps them to go away and discover more for themselves.

Planning the main teaching session

Section three of your training session framework, the teaching element, is obviously the most important and needs to be planned carefully. In the next article we will look in more detail at this. However, it is very important to take into consideration that most people have preferred learning styles and within your session you need to take account of this and provide activities that help people to learn in the best way for them.

Learning styles

  • Visual learners prefer leaning by reading information, looking at pictures, or watching films.
  • Auditory learners you prefer to learn by listening to ideas before putting them into practice.
  • Kinaesthetic learners prefer learning through practical activities and hands on opportunities to explore ideas.

You can find out your own preferred learning style by completing the questionnaire found at

Understanding about learning styles will lead you to include a variety of approaches within your training session. Hands-on practical activities, listening activities, videos, discussion, whiteboard, PowerPoint presentation and role play to name just a few.

Choosing your resources

Finally within your planning you need to consider what resources are going to be available to you and how you will lay out the room.

Setting up a room that is conducive to learning

Finally, remember to give consideration to how your room will be laid out. Do you want delegates to be seated at tables? If so can they all see the resources you are using? If you want delegates seated without tables consider if straight rows, random seating or semicircular arrangements would be best. Ensure that staff’s physical needs are met. Is the temperature of the room good? Are toilets close by? Are the chairs comfortable? Are tissues, water, pens and paper available? Don’t be afraid to spoil them with a few chocolate biscuits or sweets. It’s often these little touches that make the training session a more pleasurable and comfortable experience and when delegates relax and feel happy they give and receive more readily.

Good luck with your planning!

Tips for using resources

Use headings only – too much text will be lost. Use colour pens if possible to give a better visual effect.

Either staple the handouts together into a booklet that your staff can have at the beginning of the session or, if there are only one or two, give them out at the relevant point in your talk.

Try to produce the slides onto paper with space beside each one for delegates to make notes. Once again don’t put too much onto each slide.

Flip chart
This can be very useful when conducting a discussion and you want to note the main points that the delegates are raising.

Check before you start that the pens work!

If you have activities that require props double check that each group has everything they need on their table before you start the session. It can waste a great deal of time handing things out after you’ve explained the task.