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Supporting learning and development

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Use this series of pages to help your team maintain and improve their performance at work.

It’s important to provide staff with appropriate learning and development opportunities to help them succeed in their role and fulfil their potential. This page explains how to develop effective learning and development plans.

Writing a learning and development policy

A good first step is to develop a learning and development policy, setting out the ways your organisation supports staff to learn and develop. It's not essential, but it helps you take a strategic and fair approach to learning and development.

If you allow staff time off for training, set this out in your policy and be clear about how much time.

If your organisation has 250 employees or more, employees have the right to request time off work for training, subject to 26 weeks’ service. Time off is usually unpaid unless agreed otherwise.

GOV.UK provides more guidance on training and study at work.

NCVO members can download our learning and development policy template, to use as a basis for drafting their own document.

Developing learning and development plans

Use personal development plans to clearly set out actions’ employees plan to take to develop their skills and knowledge, and review these regularly.

When planning learning and development, try to link it to a SMART objective. Remember that learning can take place in a variety of ways – not just through a formal training course.

Read our guidance on setting SMART objectives.

It can also be helpful to develop an annual plan for the whole organisation. Doing this will allow you to:

  • make sure you’re achieving your policy
  • budget for planned activities
  • coordinate learning and development opportunities across the organisation, to avoid running the same training course multiple times for different people.

Example learning and development plan

Here’s a suggested format for an annual learning and development plan. You could use a similar format for personal development plans for each member of your team.

Setting high standards

You might decide to work towards the Investors in People Standard. The standard is a government quality award given to organisations that can demonstrate they invest in the development of all their employees.

You can find more information on the Investors in People website.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 01 August 2022

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