Learn Devon recognises that there are learning environments where volunteers can make an appropriate and significant contribution to the work of Learn Devon and to the experiences of learners individually and in groups.
Volunteers put their time, experience, knowledge and skills at the disposal of Learn Devon free of charge, with the primary aim of bringing benefit to adult learners, and to adult learning in their local communities.
Volunteers may also give their services in order to develop their own skills and knowledge, including the gaining of qualifications, so that the capacity of local communities to deliver good quality adult learning can be increased.
Volunteers add value to and enrich the adult learning experience. They have their own specific contributions to make according to their personal experiences and capabilities and do not replace or assume the duties and responsibilities of paid teaching staff. Learn Devon will ensure that all volunteers have the necessary skills and knowledge to be at ease in and able to contribute fully to the learning environments they are supporting.
Where an existing member of Learn Devon teaching staff or management participates in a teaching session led by another tutor, whether this participation is paid or not, this is not considered a volunteer placement.
Learn Devon seeks to involve volunteers to; govern and guide Learn Devon, ensure our services meet the needs of the communities we serve, provide new skills and perspectives and reflect the range of people and skills in the communities we serve.
This volunteering policy is underpinned by the following principles:
- Learn Devon will not introduce volunteers to replace paid staff.
- Learn Devon will ensure that volunteers are properly integrated into Learn Devon’s operational structure and that mechanisms are in place for them to contribute to Learn Devon’s work.
- Learn Devon will ensure that staff at all levels will work positively with volunteers, and where appropriate will actively seek to involve them in their work. Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that paid staff are clear about the role of volunteers, and to foster good working relationships between paid staff and volunteers.
- The volunteer role is a ‘gift relationship’, based on trust and mutual understanding. No enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise, can be imposed on volunteers to attend, give or be set a minimum amount of time to carry out the tasks involved in their voluntary activity. There is however a presumption and expectation of mutual support and reliability. Reciprocal expectations are clearly acknowledged – both of what Learn Devon expects of volunteers and what volunteers expect of Learn Devon.
- Learn Devon recognises that volunteers require satisfying roles and personal development and will seek to help volunteers meet those needs, as well as providing training for them to do their activity effectively.
- We will not take advantage of your good will in volunteering and will let you know immediately if changes in learning opportunities mean that your support is no longer essential.
Aim of Voluntary Support
Volunteers support activities which will meet the individual learning needs of all learners and provide essential support that will support all adults including those with disabilities to access learning.
Definition of Volunteering
Volunteering is a valuable expression of citizenship as well as an important element of a democratic society. Volunteers are people who are unpaid and of their own free will, contribute their time, energy and skills to benefit their community
Learn Devon’s Commitment to All Volunteers:
If there is a suitable opportunity, we will discuss and agree with you a placement which best matches the needs of Learn Devon and your personal circumstance and interests.
You will be given essential information about Learn Devon, about the place where you are volunteering and relevant information about the learning which you will be supporting before you begin to volunteer.
You will have access to the Devon County Council and Learn Devon policies on: Safeguarding, Equality and Diversity, Health and Safety, the Learner Support Policy and the Learn Devon Service Structure, to help you understand the context in which you are volunteering.
At any session you may be asked to work with particular individual learners or work with small groups of learners. You will not be asked to take responsibility for a full teaching group.
You will not be asked to take any responsibilities that relate to the requirements of awarding bodies if you are working with learners taking qualifications.
Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers:
Learn Devon recognises the following rights and responsibilities of the volunteer and Learn Devon, and the broader content of this policy sets out how these are achieved.
Learn Devon Volunteers Will:
- know what is (and what is not) expected of them
- have adequate support in their volunteering
- receive appreciation
- volunteer in a safe environment
- be insured
- know their rights and responsibilities if something goes wrong
- receive relevant out-of-pocket expenses
- receive appropriate training
- be free from discrimination
- be offered the opportunity for personal development and progression
- be offered regular opportunities to get feedback and discuss their role
Learn Devon Expects Volunteers To:
- be reliable
- be honest
- respect confidentiality
- make the most of training and support opportunities
- carry out tasks in a way that reflects the aims and values of Learn Devon, including respect for others and safety, both at Learn Devon centres and at other sites where the volunteer may be representing Learn Devon.
- carry out tasks within agreed guidelines.
- respect the work of Learn Devon and not bring it into disrepute.
- comply with Devon County Council’s and Learn Devon’s policies.
- dress appropriately according to the role (safety or other clothing will be provided as appropriate.)
- only smoke within designated smoking areas of working venues.
- use their phones only in exceptional circumstances while volunteering.
Recruitment, Diversity and Equal Opportunities
Learn Devon welcomes people from all social backgrounds and intends to make volunteering accessible. We aim to challenge discrimination to ensure that volunteers are welcomed by us regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as political affiliation, culture or criminal records that do not create a risk to vulnerable groups including children.
Volunteers are expected to provide two-character references before taking up a voluntary placement, and complete a standard DCC application form and co-operate with the undertaking of DBS checks.
Devon County Council and Learn Devon are fully committed to Equality of Opportunity and inclusive learning for all adults. Anyone participating in the provision must always act in a way which supports these principles, Failure to do so will mean that an individual will automatically exclude himself/herself from being a volunteer.
Learn Devon will attempt to find appropriate volunteering opportunities for anyone who wishes to volunteer. If no appropriate volunteer opportunities are available, volunteers will be referred to other voluntary opportunity providers. Volunteers should make a commitment to placements that are offered, informing Learn Devon, when attendance is not possible.
In some circumstances volunteers may need specific experience or qualification levels in order to be able to give appropriate support e.g. English / Maths – Level 2 qualification in the subject.
Such requirements will be discussed with volunteers during the informal interview stage.
Learn Devon has an open recruitment policy with clear and structured procedures for taking on new volunteers. The recruitment process will usually take the following form:
- promotion of opportunities in order to make them accessible to all
- informal interview
- request for a reference
- interview, initial induction and ongoing training as appropriate
- a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check.
Information about the volunteer not relevant to the performance of the volunteering tasks concerned will be disregarded by Learn Devon in terms of recruitment and selection.
Volunteers will have a clear and concise session plan with description of tasks to be completed, which will be reviewed during supervision sessions. The session plan and description of tasks will be prepared with the full involvement of the volunteer.
Volunteers should act in accordance with the ethos and the policies of Learn Devon and DCC and work positively to provide the best quality learning environment for learners.
Support and Supervision
All volunteers will be given regular opportunities to meet up with a member of Learn Devon staff on a one-to-one basis to discuss opportunities for training and development in their role, for Learn Devon to recognise the individual’s contributions, as well as discussing progression routes and any other issues including opportunity to give feedback to Learn Devon. The frequency, format and length of these sessions will be agreed with the volunteer. We believe it is important that every volunteer has a positive experience of giving their time at Learn Devon and that good two-way communication is key to this.
Training in the supervision of volunteers will be given to all those Learn Devon staff who have direct responsibility for volunteers. Where Learn Devon is working in partnership with other organisations, those organisations will be made aware of Learn Devon’s volunteer policy and our training for staff to support volunteers, and will be expected to provide the same level of support through their staff.
Learn Devon wants to see volunteers progressing, learning new skills and achieving their ambitions. Wherever possible, we will support volunteers with their progression into employment through mentoring, signposting, providing references and offering support with job application processes.
Learn Devon will strive to support individuals who are volunteering in order to gain specific experience for qualifications which they are pursuing personally. However, Learn Devon cannot guarantee to accommodate specific demands or requirements of any awarding body, unless these are clearly in the best interests of learners and within the remit for volunteers.
Learn Devon will strive to support individuals who are volunteering in order to gain specific experience for qualifications which they are pursuing personally.
Volunteers will be set up with an Office 365 account and @learndevon.co.uk email address for internal communication. Access will also be made available to our Communications Policy.
Learn Devon will advise the volunteer on its confidentiality policy and procedures, where relevant. This would include those relating to personal information held by Learn Devon relating to the volunteer. Volunteers are expected to maintain records of activities and support given during placement. Support will be given for this. All information about learners, including the fact that a learner is participating in provision, is strictly confidential.
Learn Devon’s volunteers are able to claim reasonable out of pocket expenses, subject to the production of receipts as evidence of the expenditure. What can be reclaimed from Learn Devon and the calculation of travel expenses may be paid in accordance with DCC travel rates and in line with standard reimbursement procedures.
Learn Devon has a uniform approach to the reimbursement of expenses which are the same for volunteers, staff, etc. as approved by the Inland Revenue.
All volunteers engaged in teaching and learning and working to the directions of a Learn Devon tutor or member of staff are covered by the relevant DCC public liability insurances. Learn Devon does not insure volunteers’ personal items or possessions.
Learn Devon advises that volunteers who are in receipt of state benefits inform the Benefits Agency that they are doing voluntary work. Learn Devon has no duty to inform the Benefits Agency of the people who volunteer. Learn Devon will not give advice to people receiving state benefits; all queries should be addressed to the local Benefit Office.
Settling Differences and Difficulties
As a member of the public you are, of course, entitled to make use of the normal DCC complaints procedures, if you experience difficulties or have concerns which you cannot resolve with a senior member of staff. Learn Devon aims to treat all volunteers fairly, objectively and consistently. Learn Devon seeks to ensure that volunteers’ views are heard, noted and acted upon guidelines for settling differences.
As a volunteer, neither DCC formal disciplinary nor grievance procedures apply to you, but the volunteer code of conduct outlined in this policy does. In the event of a problem, all relevant facts should be obtained as quickly as possible. Support will be provided by Learn Devon to the volunteer while it endeavours to resolve the problem in an informal manner. If an informal resolution proves impossible, and a volunteer’s behaviour is repeatedly or seriously unacceptable, they may be asked to change their role, or to leave Learn Devon.
Leaving Learn Devon
When a volunteer’s time at Learn Devon comes to an end, we would like feedback about their placement and suggestions for improving our volunteer programme.
Volunteers will be given a reference once they have volunteered at Learn Devon for four weeks or more. This may be references for further study, another volunteer programme or as part of an application for paid employment.
Returning to Learn Devon
Volunteers are welcome to return to Learn Devon for future volunteering opportunities – either in the same or for a new role. Volunteers should speak to a member of Learn Devon staff about returning to a volunteering role.
Pre-Placement Checklist for Line Managers of Volunteers
|Health and Safety Policy|
|Full details of placement|
|Office 365 account and @learndevon.co.uk email address|
|Contact is possible by mobile or other device during the placement and awareness of placement by LD|
|Risk assessment of placement and lone working policy|
|Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy|
|Safeguarding Children and Adults policy|
|Learner Support Policy|
|Access to all available DCC and Learn Devon Policies including Communications Policy|
I agree to abide by the principles and guidelines set out in the above Volunteering policy and I understand that all activities I undertake under direction and support of Learn Devon are covered by the relevant DCC public liability insurances:
Volunteer ………………………….. Date …………………
Learn Devon Staff Member ………………………………. Date …………………
Updated July 2022