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Training and accessibility


Veteran (100+ posts)
For some areas training days can be a “big event” or a “calendar highlight” for volunteers. Be it the social aspect (getting to exchange ideas, catch ups, meeting other leaders or people in person for the first time), a chance to have information clarified, big announcements, annual events or simply the chance to learn something new.

Each area might do things a little differently. Some go in for one big annual training day. It will always be held on a Saturday or Sunday in a certain location. Some have smaller grouped ones across the year.

One thing seems common as comments though, lots of training is “catch it while you can”. There might not be limited places but it might not be proper advertising, it might be held in a difficult location (or the same people travelling a long way each time) or an awkward time.

Or perhaps when you saw this title something else sprung to your mind: being welcome to newcomers, if you don’t know anyone, if you have a disability…

Inevitably nothing will ever work for everyone. But are there ways that training can be made more realistically accessible?


Veteran (100+ posts)
E-learning can be fantastic - you can do it whenever and wherever suits you, and because it's so instant you can piggyback off initial enthusiasm to do training on whatever subject. I wish the e-learning modules on the website were a bit harder and more specific, because the section ones don't go into the Brownie Adventures at all, or how to run a Rainbow roundabout or whatever.

Face to face training can be good but it depends on the trainer, and in our area it's always held on a Saturday. I'd like to see more quick fire training - an hour or half and hour before the start of the district meeting would be good. Obviously, these things all take volunteers to run, but personally I would like the option of different times of training to make it more accessible.

I think we also need to consider which trainings are one way and which are collaborative- for example, a safeguarding training is basically information being passed from trainer to learner, so smaller groups or e-learning is fine. Sectional training works well if people share ideas and how it works in their unit, so maybe a larger group setting is more appropriate.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Where I live there are now less occurrences of a single-big-training-bonanza compared to a few years ago. Big days can be great for networking or passing on messages but are a nightmare if you want to do more than one training or miss the only chance to attend a GAW or FA training for the year.

With the rise of social media opportunities can also be pushed a bit better and quicker, and don’t rely on a commissioner/coordinator/unit main contact passing them on. I certainly didn’t realise how much training there was until I changed units…

I suppose what lots of it boils down to is that it’s volunteers organising for volunteers. What ever might work better would come at the cost of someone else.

I like trainings where everyone taking part in the session quickly says their name and roles at the start. It’s a nice brief introduction and it gives context to any comments they might have. When I first started to attend trainings on my own rather than being in the special YL ones I sometimes felt like I had missed a memo everyone else had got. Who were some of these ladies everyone just automatically agreed with in sessions, what were some of these (outdated) terms that didn’t match the ones I knew, there was no clear start or end to parts of the day. I once attended a training day that started with a talk, and was sat near two new volunteers. There was a surprise “flash mob” of singing that lasted for a long time and expected everyone to join in at the end. Of the two new volunteers one looked completely spooked.

And my usual thing of more small e-trainings please!


Brownie Leader
Staff member
I love e-learning. I despise the new safeguarding modules which are both e-learning AND face to face.

I'm also aware that there are leaders out there still not online...and getting them to do the now compulsory e-safeguarding is a huge headache. So nothing works for everyone, but hybrid is a headache for all.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Trying new things to get people to attend, rather than the same old same old.
Offering lunch as included, rather than bring your own.
Trainings that are a bit different from the usual. Guiders with years of experience who do stay up to date are unlikely to be inspired if the only options are Go! First response, Using the adventure books, Working in small groups.
Yes the basics always have to be included for new leaders, but a wider variety of options, not necessarily a bigger choice, just different stuff for those of us who have been to every training/AGM for umpty years.

Changing the venue so it is not the same people who have to drive for an hour every year because the organisers can get the venue cheaply.

Unlike Badgemad4 I dislike the bit where you all have 30 seconds to talk about yourself. I can't remember any names, and some people feel uncomfortable, me included.

One training I attended, the trainer said she was there to show what was available, laid a load of stuff on tables and told us to walk round and have a look - that was a 90 minute session. Yes it was useful, but not a training. It could have been on tables generally for everyone throughout the day. Wasted opportunity!

maybe Div Coms could ask for ideas about trainings required in advance so that the organisers had chance to sort out options that would be more popular and get more people there

Smaller district and division trainings can be better targetted to suit the local needs, county wide usually includes very urban units, remote units, wealthy ones, deprived ones, and the training needs will not be a one size fits all


Veteran (100+ posts)
I dislike ice breakers that don’t serve a purpose and take too much time into the session. An hour training update on Go, do I need to know a fun fact about the person sat three chairs away?

They do work though to break the tension before diving into awkward subjects if they are kept pacey and aren’t too personal. The best ones IMHO are having a go at an activity. When I trained to be an In4mer this is how we learned, and it mainly seemed to work (this is back when the 4 scheme trained to cover adults too).


In my area, there is one section training per year (always an evening training in County headquarters) and a County Day Training every 3-4 years at most. We are considered a large and compact County.

So even if you want training, It's hard to come by. On that basis I'd like to see videoconference options, which could allow those who would otherwise find trainings difficult to access, accessible. I'd also urge trainings being marketed to neighbouring Counties (especially less commonly covered topics).

It's tempting to suggest e-learning but, currently at least, it has major limitations. How much does one necessarily pick up from watching a video then filling in a questionnaire? With no opportunity to ask questions, seek clarifications, discuss topics? Though perhaps better than nothing It's far from ideal.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
I don't think there is ever a perfect training schedule that will suit everyone. just as there is no communication model that suits all. New leaders are fairly easy as everything is new and if presented right then they will always come away with something.

Getting ecperienced leaders trained is like feeding the child who doesn't like veg... you have to chop it up small and mix it in with stuff that they like...social gatherings, girl events - have a session for leaders to 'relax and mix' - craft trainings that bring in some programme stuff...

There is some interesting stuff on the new programme website about how they plan to implement the training on that ...Helping you learn about the new programme

I did a couple of the webinars on the new GO and found them really good and helpful so similar ideas for the new programme should be good.

The other thought is that we have a lot of good, experienced leaders on this forum who have a lot to offer....have we ever considered being a trainer ? This could be the start of a whole new adventure....

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Veteran (100+ posts)
As per usual, my Division is thinking a bit outside the box on trainings. Our Division team (1 year old, of which I'm a joint commissioner) looked into trainings when we started and found what was on offer a bit lacking. Our county have a week in September before we go back (which is completely useless for the many students we have across our very university orientated county) and one day in March which always follows the same format, a section training in the morning and then first response/safe space etc in the afternoon. Plus a "new leader" day (in January before the students come back, Doh!). There are quite a few trainings but they are all the same.

So, we have a meeting every other month within Division that people can choose to come to. Month one is a more traditional meeting, month two is an air and share (sharing activity ideas mainly) and month 3 is a workshop (it's a training but we are not allowed to call it that as there is no trainer). We asked people for their ideas and have so far run "workshops" on the new programme, the emergency file, and the next will be on accounts. We have also organised trainers to come and run official trainings within Division on the new Go system and first aid.

I think a lot of the problem is getting new blood into the trainers system. Not sure what it's like now but it used to be really hard to get qualified as a trainer and it demands a lot of time and dedication, therefore we have the same trainers going round and round and they are really overworked. I'm afraid I was discouraged some time ago from going to section trainings because I went to a couple and they were exactly the same (and I mean exactly!).

Oh, and on the subject of ice breakers. I went to our county "strategy" day, to help plan the new county strategy for the new CC. It was a whole weekend event and we spent a grand total of 40 minutes (yes, 40 minutes!) making a new plan for the county. The rest of the time we spent doing ice breakers and team building exercises, the best of which (that's sarcasm) was building a guy out of old clothes that had a county twist. What a waste of a whole weekend.
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Veteran (100+ posts)
I like online trainings

Mainly because I work full time, so Guiding 2 evenings a week, and I have MH issues and have found that I really need time to myself to decompress or I get very stressed.

So the idea of giving up most of my Saturday to go to an all day training session with people I don’t know doesn’t appeal if I’m honest. I also don’t drive, so getting to evening sessions and then getting home again is often difficult and time consuming when all I want after a long day at work is to go straight home!

I do the mandatory ones like when I was doing my ALQ and safe space and first aid. But tend to skip the optional ones.


Veteran (100+ posts)
My County have been trying to do a variety of events - some in evenings, some at weekends. They have duplicated them so people don't necessarily miss out and can hopefully get to one.
Online are good for some things, as people can go at their speed, so someone who is learning something for the first time can take more time, and those who are doing it to tick a box (I do lots of safe space style stuff through work at a school, so it is a repeat for me) can get through quicker.
Drop-in sessions sometimes work, or I do wonder whether if running Division events where you don't necessarily need all the leaders who will attend to be with the girls, whether some catch-up training could be run alongside (space and trainer dependent).
I also think that whilst signing up to a section training is good, it would be good to see what is going to happen a little more - some leaders who do more than one section may end up in a training that they don't need, and had they known in advance they would have done a different one.

I don't really like ice-breakers/team challenges - unless it is something specifically designed to encourage thinking/using them in units - where they need to be 30 mins of doing and 30 mins for explaining, looking at the resources etc.