Online training has arrived!

Stephen signing OK

Stephen signing OKGet excited... online training has arrived!

We are living through some of the most challenging times our country has known, creating levels of fear and uncertainty not experienced for over 70 years.

As all of us who work in the sector know, this is even more acutely felt by those with a learning disability or communication need; and we at The Makaton Charity are committed to doing all we can to support you, our Tutors, our community of users, and the wider network, to get through this period.

In our recent video blog , we outlined the steps we are taking to expand the support available to both our Makaton users and their wider circle of support. This included making an enhanced range of digital support and services available, together with launching additional free downloads for our community.  The programme kicked off this week and we have already seen over 90,000 people engaging with our posts and offers, a great sign that the strategy is working.

But we need to go further, so in line with our recent commitment to allow and support online training, I’m pleased to announce today the publication of both our Makaton Online Training Guidelines, together with the first in a range of workshop specific guidance , which will help you to maximise the learning experience for each and every person accessing Makaton training across all the levels and programmes in the network.

Clearly this is a significant change to our historical delivery methodology, and I would like to pay tribute and thanks to Zanna Finnerty, our Director of The Makaton Language Programme, the Senior Tutors, and the wider staff team who have designed, piloted and drafted these guides in what is a very short timeline.

The work continues, and we will in due course, bring forward additional guidance for Level 2 and other programmes, together with launching our new Level 3 and Level 4 Workshops, which will from the start be designed for both digital and traditional delivery.

This is a learning curve for all of us and as part of the process of maintaining both quality standards; together with successful learning, we ask that you adopt a range of mandatory standards outlined in the guides; the key standards are:

  • Observing a maximum number of candidates attending online training sessions – no more than eight participants per workshop.
  • That Workshop sessions should be broken down into manageable chunks, with sessions no longer than 4 hours and with regular breaks.
  • That Workshops are delivered within a commercial meeting platform package, ensuring a high quality of video image is available to participants, together with removing issues around sessions stopping after 40 minutes.
  • That Tutors continue to use and provide the approved Makaton Workshop materials and manuals.
  • That for all online training sessions, Tutors must provide the Charity with an online link, so that on a random basis a representative of the Charity may observe the Workshop being provided.

Moving into the digital space brings with it challenges of logistics around how candidates access their manuals, together with questions around setting and adhering to a common pricing policy, as a digital provision will no longer be limited by geographical boundaries.

On the first of these issues, we are working to develop methodologies and capacity to directly deliver workshop manuals from our print supplier to participants; together with looking at how digital Workshop material delivery might be achieved. These additional options will take time to come online, and I must ask in the interim that our Tutor network continues to bulk order participant manuals and then dispatch these yourselves to your clients.

Turning to the issue of pricing, after consultation and much consideration, we are proposing a Recommended Retail Price of £59 per Workshop (one “day “ of training = two 4 hour sessions). This is proposed as an introductory offer price, set by the Charity which aims to ensure that the cost of all online Workshops is fair and consistent across the country.

Finally in closing, let me apologise in advance, given the speed of change we are adopting, we may not get this guidance completely right first time round. Where you feel changes might be helpful, do feed these into the office via [email protected], please title your email in the subject bar ‘Level 1 Online Feedback’  and we will endeavour to incorporate them in future updates.

Can I thank everyone within the network for their many emails, texts and Facebook posts of support and encouragement, together with the great work that you are collectively doing to support the Makaton community.  We will get through this period and I know the Makaton network will rise to the challenge ahead.

Thank you again for all your great work, do keep safe and keep signing.