16 Dec, 2020
School Program Experience Gaps
This informal CPD article School Program Experience Gaps was provided by David Gregory at Xcursion, a risk management training provider focused on school excursion & activity safety.
Today we’re looking at the experience gap. What is the experience gap? Basically when you have someone who is been running a program for a number of years who then leaves and goes to another school or they retire you end up with an experience gap. This is common place in schools and it happens all the time with people moving about. People getting promoted, people retiring and so on.
Generally speaking in the classroom there is not much risk involved. Someone comes in and they pick up a teaching program. If there is a program… I’ve been to plenty of schools where it has been like no teaching program has ever been written before in their life and now the department just suddenly realized that they need to write a program for what they are teaching. Anyway, that is a segue and that is a completely different matter in itself.
However, when you have someone who has been running a program such as an international tour for many, many years and they might have been running it entirely themselves or with a small number of staff who come and go. If the teacher running this, moves on, thus we end up with a skills gap. What are all the intricacies about this program? What are the in-country requirements? What are those fundamental risk management principles that have been applied by this staff member and how can someone understand them when they take over?
Naturally, if a program has been running for many years it is going to continue and it is not just because that one person was there that it will all fall apart. If it has come to the point where it is ingrained in the culture of the school, then this is where you end up with this skills gap.
One of the ways to address this skills gap is to then do a transitional period. If you know someone is going to move on or retire then you do a proper handover. A really effective handover it is not just, ‘oh yeah the Cambodia tour is great.’ ‘It was fun and yeah we go to these places and here, here, here, it’s all good.’ You really need someone, if you are running it all yourself to actually go on that trip and experience it for themselves.
This might cost you in the short term but over the long term this is going to address a critical gap that often forms when programs get handed over and the handover is not very effective. That is the same with outdoor education programs, co-curricular programs and all sorts of things. You end up with these little gaps and if it gets handed from one person to the next, to the next, it is like Chinese whispers and it all just dissipates into really this blurred sort of mismatch of what it should actually be and from what it was originally, it is now completely different. So, be really aware of those skills gaps and make sure that you are conducting clear and effective handovers or transitions from both an educational point of view, as well as an operational and risk management point of view when you’re handing on some of these really important experiential education programs. This will help you to have consistency in your school’s risk management approach and ensure your programs continue to be massively beneficial and fun for your students.
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