About the SHEP Training Programme


Our training uses primarily an experiential group-work approach which starts from the life experiences of each individual and supports each participant’s unique, personal growth

SHEP as a Community Education Project

 The SHEP Training Programme, which has evolved over 40 years, is integral to the organisation’s understanding of SHEP as both a Community Education Project and a Community Development Project. Our adult education work is a key manifestation of our commitment to transformation both at the personal and community levels.

Who is our Training for?

Our Training programme has three key target groups: adults in the community; practitioners and organisations.

A key feature of our training programme is our emphasis on supporting the inclusion of people from all backgrounds but in particular those who are experiencing different kinds of disadvantage or distress.

Key Characteristics

All courses offered by SHEP are:

  • part-time (usually involving one evening or day-time session per week)
  • delivered to provide supportive, enjoyable and friendly learning environments
  • open to, and normally include, participants from all sorts of backgrounds
  • accessible (open to people with various educational backgrounds)
  • low-cost – because they are subsidised by SHEP’s main funder (the HSE)
  • and are informed by SHEP’s ‘Charter for Course Participants’

SHEP Facilitators

The SHEP training programme is facilitated by Facilitators or SHEP Trained Community Tutors who work according to the ethos and values of the Project and who follow agreed codes of practice.

Experiential – Group work

The SHEP Training Programme has evolved since 1974, but retains a very strong emphasis on experiential learning, and experiential group-work in particular. The majority of courses offered in SHEP are experiential group-work courses. These are courses which are facilitated or co-facilitated by trained and experienced facilitators of experiential group-work. There is a strong personal development orientation in these courses.

Courses using a ‘Variety of Participatory Approaches’

All other SHEP courses (i.e. those which are not experiential group-work courses) use a variety of participatory learning approaches. These courses represent a small minority of courses offered in SHEP. They retain a strong emphasis on experiential learning, but other learning approaches are also used, according to the need.

SHEP-Certified Courses

Most courses offered by SHEP are experiential group-work courses which are deliberately not linked to the National Framework of Qualifications, but are instead certified by SHEP.

The vast majority of SHEP Training is, and will remain, SHEP Certified (and not externally accredited) because of a specific policy position to provide accessible, high quality, personal development-oriented educational experiences for our course participants which do not include trainer assessment.

Three Practitioner Training Pathways

A unique feature of the SHEP Training programme is that is offers three practitioner training  pathways. These are i) the Specialised Tutor Training pathway, ii) the Independent Advocacy Training pathway and iii) the Community Leadership pathway. These provide training in the specialist application of facilitation skills and are intended especially for those who wish to increase their capacity to offer developmental supports in the community.

The main thing you need to train with SHEP is a willingness to draw on your own experience of life.