In times of peace and conflict, the Royal Navy helps to stabilise the seas and keep maritime trade flowing, while acting as a guardian and a diplomat on the global stage.

Ultimately, the Royal Navy is a fighting force that deters conflict by being ready to deploy immediately. Ensuring that the Royal Navy is well-equipped to carry out its role and is in a continual state of readiness requires a diverse approach to education and training. 

At Capita, we lead a consortium of organisations who provide shore-based education and training for the Royal Navy. Together we’re focused on modernising training and committed to adopting new and innovative educational technologies to provide qualified, more motivated and experienced personnel equipped with the knowledge, attitudes, skills and expertise they need to deal with the challenges of the future. 

Imagine being immersed in a virtual reality environment on-shore to experience how you should carry out dangerous tasks before being faced with a similar but real-life situation at sea. Using new and innovative technologies can provide much better life-like learning experiences than those offered in classrooms or online alone. There are so many possibilities to explore.  Following the first anniversary of our training programme with the Royal Navy, we wanted to examine what the future of defence education could look like. Working with one of our partners, the University of Lincoln, we researched the field of emerging technologies with a focus on digital, mobile and multimodal solutions. 

The research led to a new vision for Royal Navy training, where personnel learn within a range of hybrid and technology enhanced environments. These blended environments centre on ‘flipped classrooms’ where students are introduced to content at home or elsewhere and practice working through it in the classroom or in other distributed ways, including in their own time and at their own pace. 

The Royal Navy is a complex organisation with a wide range of roles. This vision for learning, if adopted, will involve several different types of teaching with learning more personalised, so personnel can be supported more effectively at the point of need. It will also help to remove some of the complexities associated with current provision and accelerate progress. By providing more personalised programmes, courses and modules, we’ll be able to provide additional wrap-around education and training that also makes the most of new technologies.

A complementary virtual college for the Royal Navy

The blended vision for learning presented opens up the possibility of establishing a ‘virtual college’ for the Royal Navy. At the very least, this could provide an ‘anytime, anywhere’ repository of materials helping to train personnel on or off-shore. At best, this approach could provide an entire virtual learning ecosystem that supports and complements provision by all other means. Of course, there will still be many times when residential courses remain the best approach and entirely ‘fit-for-purpose' and this new vision will not replace this. It will, instead, provide a balanced approach between online and face-to-face learning while maximising the benefits of both. 

Central to this vision are the individuals and teams who deliver education and training and while approaches to teaching and learning will change, Royal Navy educators remain at heart of the virtual college model. 

Transforming the approach to education and training aligns with the Royal Navy’s wider transformation agenda. By making training more flexible and efficient we can minimise the time spent away from the front line.

Written by

Nick Juba

Nick Juba

Director of Learning, Capita

Nick has extensive experience within the education sector having held a number of senior positions in Further and Higher Education as well as working on national education policy at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Before joining Capita and Fisher Training Nick was the Chief Executive Officer at Brighton Metropolitan College, a large FE College with campuses across the City and West Sussex. Until 2020 Nick taught on the Preparing for CEO executive education programme at Said Business School, University of Oxford.

John Sharp

John Sharp

Professor of Education, University of Lincoln

John is Professor of Higher Education and Head of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of Lincoln. With a 30-year career in teaching, research and educational leadership, he specialises in the design and evaluation of educational interventions and their impact.

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