1st April 2021 marked Service Commencement Day 1 (SCD 1) - ‘day one’ of Capita’s 12-year training modernisation contract with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, commencing the newest chapter of our strategic relationship with defence, and partnership with the MoD.

Much has already been written about the contract and what it means for us, our delivery partners, and of course the Royal Navy and MoD. However, the launch of Project Selborne, the TUPE of nearly 700 staff to our business, and the successes already delivered within the contract, have been an exceptional achievement with only an 11-week transition period from contract signature to delivery of training.

Collaboration – the key to Selborne’s success

There have been multiple contributors and components to our success – our expert team, world class partners in Raytheon, Elbit, Fujitsu and University of Lincoln, extensive planning in the launch build-up by all parties and unrivalled expertise across our consortium. However, one of the most significant elements and key behaviours that has allowed our team to excel in the project’s launch is collaboration.

Working openly, honestly and together with the Royal Navy was a stated aim and requirement of the contract as they were looking for a very different relationship to the traditional supplier construct. We understand what this style of relationship looks like as evidenced by our approach to the Recruitment Partnership Project (RPP), a contract that totally transformed and flourished once both parties (Capita and The British Army) realised that they could only both win together, through a truly collaborative relationship. You can read more about that success here.

Through genuine collaboration with the Royal Navy, we have achieved a first-class transition including meeting all the new green KPIs agreed as part of the programme. The fact that there has been zero impact or interruption to planned training despite such a complex transition is a first-class achievement!

The challenge to the launch

It was announced that we’d been selected for the Selborne project on 18th December 2020, meaning we had a little under three months to prepare and mobilise. With 833 people TUPE-transferring from several incumbent delivery organisations, there was, of course, a huge amount to do in preparing for SCD 1. Despite the Christmas holidays, pandemic lockdown issues and TUPE staff being on Easter leave the day of mobilisation, we and our partners ensured a smooth project switchover with absolutely zero interruption to service. It was, of course, very important to demonstrate a smooth move over of the service as we delivered on our assurances to the Royal Navy. This was an early indication of our continuing commitment to the principles and philosophy that we bring to Selborne, and fulfilling these served all of us extremely well in the early days of the project, enabling the continuation of building the right sort of strategic partnership with the Royal Navy.

In addition to working collaboratively with the Royal Navy’s senior leadership team and at all levels, our launch could only have successfully mobilised with regular and open lines of communication with all TUPE colleagues and those members of staff impacted in any way.

Again, we were able to bring our unrivalled experience in TUPE and organising personnel moves into new businesses, successfully and professionally, encouraging new team members and fostering a shared sense of togetherness, buy-in, and collaboration.

We fully understood and anticipated the sizeable amount of concern and uncertainty involved in the move over and launch – there always is in any TUPE transfer. We knew that most of the staff had been involved in a TUPE move in the past, an exercise that many had likely found unsettling. We were fully committed and made it one of the highest priorities of the team that our new colleagues and partners would be as informed, engaged, reassured, and enthused as possible by our process.

One key challenge was the fact that the truncated transition meant the necessary staff details and data was late in the pre-mobilisation process. Despite this, we opened regular lines of communication with all future colleagues early in the process, hosting twice-weekly briefing sessions with training managers, senior/commanding officers, and their teams. All staff had the opportunity to take part in every briefing session which were shaped and tailored for their specific roles and areas of expertise. We used these sessions to provide clear updates on progress, upcoming plans, activity for the following week, training on new employee systems and of course provided lots of time and avenues for questions.

All these sessions were hosted and run by the Senior Leadership Team across Capita and our partners. Our HR experts also joined to add details around pensions, career opportunities and other personnel elements. We tried to go above and beyond to ensure every single person felt informed, appreciated and aligned, and to help demonstrate this commitment we sent welcome packs and personalised information to colleagues’ home addresses. We felt this was important to not only ensure colleagues felt supported and informed, but to ensure everyone involved enjoyed a consistent onboarding experience, especially since many were on Easter leave when we launched. To further enhance future communications, we’re currently running a ‘lessons learned’ exercise with all Capita Defence Training employees to discover how we can continue to improve on the experience and do more going forward. We’ll have the results of that exercise in July.


From the point the contract was signed on 8th January 2021, we had only 11 weeks to prepare for the first transfer date on April 1st, 2021. Achieving this with zero impact on service and still hitting 100% of our agreed KPIs is something we’re immensely proud of. Feedback, both formal and informal from throughout the Royal Navy chain of command and many of the onboarding team, has been incredibly positive. Again, this all comes down to collaboration, and making a continuous and conscious effort to work together with our delivery partners and the Royal Navy. Ensuring throughout that the workforce is fully engaged and understands that individuals hard work and professionalism is at the core of our success in achieving this, for which we have thanked everyone involved in the transfer. . Our new working relationship with the Royal Navy is driven by shared goals, and our commitment to deliver better outcomes for every single person on this incredible journey, one that is a true privilege to lead.

We now look forward to continuing to deliver and modernise Royal Navy training, within the wider 1st Sea Lord Transformation agenda. Improving and embedding the right processes and cultures, and being a strategic partner with the Royal Navy as we collectively drive towards the stated ambition of – getting better trained people to the front line, faster.

Find out more about our partnerships with defence organisations

Written by

David Hook CBE

David Hook CBE

Managing Director Capita Defence Training

David had a highly successful military career during which he was awarded a CBE and QCVS in recognition of his performance while deployed in operational environments, leaving as a Major General in 2014. He has subsequently worked in a number of multinational defence businesses, and acted as an advisor and executive coach at C-suite level. He has been working on Project Selborne for 3 years and was appointed as Managing Director in July 2020.

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