Chairman's Chatter - October 2021

With the summer holidays behind us, this is the time of year that ringing typically regroups and bands look to recruit and/or concentrate on improving their ringing. This is obviously not a typical year, but I think that most bands are now in a position to take stock of where they are and work out how they can rebuild or progress. Part of this may involve thinking afresh about how new recruits and less experienced ringers are taught and supported. ART can help with this.

The Learning the Ropes scheme

Since ringing restarted earlier this summer, we’ve seen a lot of new ringers enrolled onto the Learning the Ropes scheme, certificates being issued, and we’ve even had our first LtR Level 5 Achievers (on tower and hand bells).

Some of you might not have previously considered using the scheme. I know that when I completed my first ART course I was so “full” of information that I completely missed the relevance of the scheme – an oversight that has been corrected since! We’d love to see more teachers enrolling their students on the scheme – so the obvious question to ask is why should you? What’s the point?

For me, the most important reason to use the scheme is it allows ringers to see that they are progressing along a learning pathway that will turn them into accomplished method ringers. After all, learning to ring is difficult, it takes time, and progress often comes in fits and starts. It can be dispiriting when however hard they try, the gap between them, and the rest of the band seems impossible to bridge. That’s where the scheme really helps – its progress logbooks, online resources, dedicated Facebook group, achievement certificates and levels, are all there to help ringers measure their progress and feel a little bit more in control. The fact that it’s a national scheme in which achievement is recognised not only within ART but also in the Ringing World, is a real plus. It is not an easy scheme to complete, but at the end of it, LtR Level 5 Achievers are eligible to be nominated for an ART Award and are invited to attend the Learning the Ropes Masterclass. Both very rewarding experiences and very well deserved.

I recognise that not all teachers and ringers are big fans of the scheme but personally I have been surprised at how popular certificates are with adult as well as with younger learners. Each one of our learners is different, both in how they learn and in what motivates them. The usefulness of the scheme to them will similarly be a matter of personal choice. Retention of new recruits has always been an issue and at a time when some bands are struggling with numbers, the Learning the Ropes scheme is just one more tool in a teacher’s armoury. Why not give it a go?

You can enrol your ringers at any level – it’s not just for your new recruits. To register your ringers on the Learning the Ropes scheme then go to the Manage Learning the Ropes Ringers section of SmART Ringer.

» Enrol your ringers onto the Learning the Ropes scheme

Online teaching forum

We held our first online teaching forum in August. It was a bit of an experiment, but I think everyone was really pleased with how it went, and feedback was very positive. Beforehand, I had seen it as a problem-solving session and there was an element of that – some new mentor, teacher pairings were made, and a couple of regional plans were discussed.However, the real success came in the break-out rooms in which people could discuss their problems and frustrations in a safe space. As someone said: “Just chatting has been a great motivator.” It was a reminder to me that teaching and leadership can be a lonely place.

Buoyed by this success we are hosting a second teaching forum on Sunday 14 November at 19.30. It will start with a 15-minute presentation by Colin Newman, who has coached the ODG Youth Team to success at the last two RWNYC contests. Colin’s presentation, about keeping young ringers engaged at a local practice, will be followed by open discussion in themed breakout rooms. I imagine one will be about young ringers, but that won’t be the only topic under discussion.

» Register for the November online teaching forum

ART publications

Books and DVDs are flying off the shelves of the online shop. Not surprisingly we are selling a lot of Personal Progress Logbooks and Ringer’s Guide to Learning the Ropes, but also Recovery Packs which represent a 25% saving on buying the products individually. If you’ve already been on an ART day course you can purchase both the Bell Handling and Raising Lowering DVDs for £10 each rather than £15.If you haven’t got your discount code then please contact Rose, the ART Administrator, who will be delighted to help.

» The ART online shop

ART Conference and AGM

Next year’s ART Conference will be held on Saturday 7 May at the Erdington Academy in Birmingham. We are holding the conference later in the year than normal in order to minimise the risk that the event has to be cancelled due to a winter Covid-19 surge. The second day of the conference weekend will be hosted by the Stewardship and Management Workgroup of the CCCBR. In a break with tradition, the conference will be separate from the AGM, which will be held online on Saturday 5 March.

Please put the dates in your diary. More information and tickets will be available early 2022.

ART Awards

We haven’t forgotten about the ART Awards and have every intention of holding them again next year, but later than normal.It feels wrong to be asking people to think about and write nominations now and of course very few Learning the Ropes ringers have had an opportunity to progress and achieve their LtR Level 5. For this reason, we are keeping a very close eye on how ringing is opening up and will launch the ART Awards when the time seems right.