Renaisi delivered Renewal Academy – the national training programme for the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit on behalf of the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) between 2003 and 2007. The programme was established to address the skills gap and skills shortage identified in the 2002 ‘Learning curve’ launched by Barbara Roche, then Minister for Social Exclusion and Neighbourhood Renewal.
It offered a unique training experience designed to develop key skills for delivering successful neighbourhood regeneration and renewal by providing practical, up to date, high quality learning events. The programme was structured to combine substantial regeneration delivery experience with professional teaching and learning. It used a wide range of innovative and imaginative learning techniques and drew heavily on the experience of practitioners, academics, policy makers and neighbourhood renewal advisors as well as local participants’ own experience. Training courses were delivered nationally and included one, two and three day events focused on leadership, effective partnership, evidence-based delivery, project and programme management, strategic commissioning, local partnership working, and succession strategies.
Over 1,400 participants received training including staff from government offices, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Local Strategic Partnership (LSPs), New Deal for Communities (NDCs), local authorities, neighbourhood management pathfinders, community organisations and private companies. The evaluation indicated a high level of participation satisfaction across the programme and illustrated that the Renewal Academy provided an effective platform for those involved in delivering regeneration to network at a strategic and operational level and to learn from each other and expert witnesses.
It also helped to stimulate a significant change in approach to the development of skills, knowledge and behaviours to support neighbourhood renewal. This included more innovative and imaginative methods of learning provision and skills development, the importance of a strong evidence base and support that is firmly grounded in practice and the local area, and an ability to constantly question and challenge practice as well as evaluate experience.
he Renewal Academy and handle all the logistics connected to successfully deliver these events including project management, contract management and marketing of the programme providing a legacy of systems, processes and in house capacity and expertise designed to successfully manage the design, development and delivery of a large number of learning and development events.
The quality of the training delivered over the period 2004 to 2007 is supported by independent evaluation and feedback scores that indicated a high level of participant satisfaction. The participants ranged from Partnership Chairs and Chief Executives and Government Office staff to community leaders; the programme saw nearly 1,400 participants go through Renewal Academy during its existence before it came to an end in 2007 when the cash provided by DCLG subsidising places for practitioners was devolved to regional improvement partnerships across the country.