Chapter 9 – Staffing of Learning and Development Division
368. Learning and Development Division (formerly Training Division) moved from its base in the Crown Office in Edinburgh to the Scottish Prosecution College in Legal House in Glasgow in 2007. In 2008, following a staff restructuring, the Division was re-named 'Learning and Development Division'. The former head of training was legally qualified whereas the current Head of Learning and Development Division is not a lawyer but is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
369. At June 2010 Learning and Development staffing consisted of 14.6 staff made up of 1 x Band G; 1 x Band F (L), 3.6 x Senior Procurator Fiscal Deputes (of whom one is on maternity leave); 1 x Band E; 4 x Band D; 2 x Band C; 2 x Band B (one with a permanent and the other with fixed term contracts).
370. Effectively three separate teams exist in the Division. The legal team is led by a legal manager (Principal Depute) and there are currently three full time trainers (one on maternity leave at present) and one part time legal trainer. An additional legal trainer is seconded from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan. The latter is part of the team of legal trainers and contact is maintained on a regular basis. Part of the duties of the legal manager is to maintain contact and support this secondee in her work. The four full time non legal trainers (Learning and Development consultants) are led by the Learning and Development Manager. Both teams are supported by a training officer who has IT expertise. The administrative team is led by the Office Manager and comprises two additional members of staff.
371. For the period March 2009 to February 2010 Learning and Development trainers delivered a total of 828 training days. Legal trainers delivered a total of 430 training days and Learning and Development Consultants delivered a total of 398 training days. These figures do not show where more than one trainer is involved in delivering the same course. The Head of Learning and Development expressed her high regard for the commitment and dedication of the staff in the Division to this achievement.
372. Some of the current staff in Learning and Development started in the then Training Division based in Edinburgh. More recent recruits have been appointed since the transfer of the Division to the Glasgow location. More recently, Learning and Development has not found it as easy to recruit new trainers to replace those whose two year placement was nearing completion. For legal staff there may be concerns about uncertainty over their options for return to operational duties.
373. Some legal trainers applied specifically for the post of legal trainer in 2008 as a two year development post. Of these there were three such legal trainers awaiting an opportunity to apply for a new post in operational work. These trainers had understood that they would be transferred back to operational duties in their previous office but this was not the case as was confirmed to us by the Director of HR. Uncertainty about the timing and circumstances of their return to operational work and the resulting impact on the remaining post-holders in Learning and Development was a matter of some concern to those with whom we consulted among both staff and managers.
374. It would seem that the issue of resilience had not been considered at the time of the appointment of the legal trainers to their posts in 2008 and was only addressed in 2010 at a time when they were coming to the end of what was to have been a two year post. The Scottish Government internal audit contained a recommendation to address resilience. The legal team was short-staffed during our inspection with one member of the team on maternity and another on secondment. Proposals to build in resilience in these difficult circumstances met with some resistance as it was felt they displayed a lack of understanding of the nature of their role.
375. Often discussion during legal training courses focus on matters where the law is not settled taxing even Appeal Court judges (topics such as disclosure and sexual offences were mentioned in this context). In these situations trainers were concerned to maintain credibility with their peers and with delegates who have considerable experience themselves at operational level.
376. This problem was neatly summed up in one of the comments received in response to our questionnaire:
- "The Trainers - They are all very good at presenting the course. They are usually not subject matter experts though, which means that I think we have lost something as often they have not "been there done that". This means that sometimes when policies or practice are challenged in discussion the trainers are not able to answer……"
377. While we therefore understand the desire to build in resilience so that, where necessary, more than one trainer can lead on a course, it must be balanced against the need to ensure that quality of training is not undermined as a result. We note that, going forward, resilience is a matter that is considered in allocation of duties and we are content that this continues where practicable and suitable for the course.
378. However we believe that the quality of the training experience should be the paramount objective and that cancellation of a course for lack of a suitable trainer might be an option to be considered against the risk of a poorly delivered course which delivers inaccurate or misleading information.
379. Recruitment of legal trainers is no longer by fixed term appointment. For Learning and Development Division this may bring more stability. For legal trainers we suggest that the longer they are away from operational work the more difficult it will be to maintain that credibility with their peers, which is required. One former legal trainer with whom we consulted suggested that one measure that might assist in this regard would be some sort of regular operational input or involvement. Such work might be allied to the topic(s) in which they are lead trainers. Such a proposal has some merit in our view and although we make no formal recommendation in this regard it may be a matter for consideration by the Division.
380. The team of legal trainers recruited to Learning and Development in 2008 received a five day 'train the trainer' course offered either at the Scottish Prison College, or 'in-house'. All but one of the legal trainers felt that this was adequate for their needs. One commented to us that it provided -
- 'the basics without the jargon'.
381. Most felt that they had continued to learn throughout their time in post. However one legal trainer felt that the very basic nature of the training provided may have placed them at a disadvantage.
- "It is difficult to know what you don't know."
382. For the Senior Depute appointed as legal trainer at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan there was a mandatory three week course - the foundation module for the Diploma in Training and Development. There is an option to study for the full Diploma at the police college and the current Depute in post is continuing with this course for her personal development.
383. The Principal Depute or legal manager, recruited in 2009 for a three year period, is nearing completion of a formal qualification in training, namely the Certificate in Training Practice offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ( CIPD). The course involves eight to ten hours per week of personal study supplemented by tutorials and workshops in a classroom environment. Written assignments are required at the end of each module. The course takes some nine months to complete and is a considerable additional workload. The qualification is equivalent to NVQ/ SVQ Level 3. It also gives access to associate membership of the Institute - a professional body which is in itself a resource.
384. We understand that it is now the view of the Head of Learning and Development that it is desirable that all trainers, whether legal trainers or consultants in Learning and Development, should have this qualification. This change of policy with regard to legal trainers reflects a move towards promoting formal qualifications generally in Learning and Development. While we see merit in the general policy of improving quality by improving the opportunity for trainers to attain formal qualifications we also observe that operational experience and in-depth familiarity with the topic is of equal importance in providing credibility with delegates and senior figures in the Service.
385. We should add that for the advocacy courses (1, 2 and 3), operational lawyers in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service co-deliver the courses alongside those legal trainers who are in post in Learning and Development. All such operational and legal trainers are NITA (National Institute of Trial Advocacy) trained.
Learning and Development Consultants
386. There is no fixed term restriction for those appointed as learning and development consultants in Learning and Development and therefore some of those consultants in post have a number of years experience in a training environment.
387. All of the learning and development consultants were either already qualified or had completed a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development since their posting to the Division. They too commented on the additional commitment to study required to complete this training. We would hope that managers will continue to be supportive of any study leave requests, where operational demands permit, for those staff undertaking additional study in their own time to acquire the necessary qualification.
388. During our benchmarking with the police training college we were advised that the police had reviewed their qualifications policy for trainers. Police trainers must now progress from the induction (a mandatory three week basic module) to complete the full Diploma in Training and Development. The reason cited for this was to offer accredited courses by accredited trainers and as a way of driving up standards within their college.
389. All trainers, both legal and admin, expressed the view that the role of trainer was an excellent opportunity to meet many more colleagues than they would do in operational work and to gain a clearer view of the strategic operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. It was viewed as a good development post with promotions from Learning and Development to other posts in the service.
390. The administrative team is headed by the Office Manager who leads a team of three. At the time of our inspection one of the staff members had a fixed term contract. There has been an increased requirement for additional administrative support as a result of the introduction of new courses and programmes and this had an impact on the workload for the team.
391. All staff confirmed that their own learning and development was encouraged or at least accommodated in the Division.
392. Flexible working patterns were evident and appeared to work well and cultural needs of the staff appear to be met.
393. Most staff confirmed they felt managers appreciated their efforts. Comments about -
- "positive reinforcement"
- "efforts are recognised and appreciated by managers".
394. Some however indicated that particularly when staffing shortages caused difficulties that awareness and appreciation by managers did not necessarily translate into support.
395. Most members of staff in Learning and Development seemed happy at their work whilst a few were less so. Possible reasons cited for low morale among some staff included changes in management structures, style and approach of managers, uncertainty about staffing moves and lack of a shared understanding between the legal and non legal trainers.
396. There were mixed responses about staff morale. For some Learning and Development was a -
- "Great place to work."
397. Other comments included -
- "It is a good place to work. The atmosphere is very friendly and the staff all have good camaraderie but still with a hard working ethic" -
- "I have learned a great deal during my time at Learning and Development and have had the chance to meet many people….In terms of those experiences it is a good place to work."
398. Reference was made to a number of changes in staffing. One member of staff told us that staff shortages had meant that working was " quite fraught at times". In addition -
- "adapting to different peoples' training and management styles and methods has been difficult at times and has led to disagreements in the past….but Learning and Development is becoming more settled now and has the makings of a good team."
399. Others did not share that feeling, citing a separate culture in the two teams of trainers:
- "I have worked in other offices where the relationship is better."
400. More than one trainer commented on the perceived "marginalisation" of legal staff in Learning and Development.
401. We were advised that until 2008/09 some legal trainers had occupied a separate room (the resource centre) when due to demand for training rooms, it was decided that they remove to the open plan main office. Having spoken to the majority of trainers (both legal and non legal) it does appear that the two teams were accustomed to working entirely separately. While the roles have many differences there is room for greater sharing of information and skills.
402. We noted in the minutes of a joint meeting in October 2009 that "it was discussed that it might be advantageous for legal and non legal trainers to sit in on each others courses occasionally if time permitted to enable us to pick up help and hints (sic) from each other on training methods". One trainer thought that there was scope for these joint meetings to be more useful than they were, particularly in sharing good practice or discussing lessons learned. This is where the 'lessons learned' logs 26 might be of value.
403. There were signs of improvement in the cohesion in the Division and for this reason we make no formal recommendation but suggest that the Head of Learning and Development and managers work together to promote greater mutual respect and co-operation between the teams.
404. We were advised that there are weekly meetings of the managers in Learning and Development. In addition, meetings of the legal team of trainers are held every month. We also found minutes of joint meetings of trainers (legal and non legal and training officer) on the shared folder. We could not find any minutes of team briefings for learning and development consultants and we were told that these were informal and not minuted. We would have expected to find team briefings minutes if only a brief record of what was discussed.
Recommendation - That minutes of team briefings are kept and shared on the shared Learning and Development Division folder.
405. Each trainer was clear about their areas of work and responsibility for courses in which they took the lead. They were responsible for ensuring that the course materials were up to date and were given time to prepare ahead of delivery. Aside from the monitoring of 'work-stream progression plans' no formal systems are in place to monitor delivery of training although we understand that on an informal basis trainers who deliver courses together do share ideas about good practice and discuss what went well and not so well.
406. We found that the people working in Learning and Development Division were, on the whole, well motivated.
407. It was clear that some culture of separate working by the two teams of trainers remained despite their co-location in the general office area in the last year. We are confident that communication issues between the teams in the office can be resolved.
408. There is a clear drive to continually improve standards and we understand that this lies behind the new policy that all trainers have or acquire the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Certificate of Training Practice (now called the Certificate of Learning and Development Practice). This drive to improve standards should not be compromised when staff shortages make timetabling of courses more difficult. It will be important for Learning and Development in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to maintain the quality of delivery of courses in these challenging times.