On the 8th March 70 ringing teachers met together at Earlswood, near Chepstow. Following the success of the first ART Conference, the 2014 event aimed to build on earlier lessons and welcome a greater number of Teachers.
ART Chairman, Pip Penney said, “It was great to see so many there yesterday and thank you to the many who traveled so far. It was a successful day and achieved quite a buzz factor for the teachers who attended. I hope that delegates will be going back to their own areas enthused.”
The day began with the ART Annual General Meeting. The Chairman gave a presentation summarising the progress of the organisation over the last year. The current members of the Management Committee were all willing to stand again and were duly re-elected. Pip thanked Peter Dale, who retired from the Management Committee this year, for his contribution to ITTS.
Teachers at the Conference also heard renewed commitments to the work of ART from Brian Meads, Chairman of the Ringing Foundation, and Chris Mew, Vice-President of the Central Council. During the ART Annual General Meeting Pip led ART’s thanks to the Ringing Foundation for their commitment to continuing funding ITTS and, commenting on Chris Mew’s letter to the Conference, Pip said, “It is great to have such support from the Central Council. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the CC’s affiliated societies and committees”.
After a short coffee break, Pip introduced Ruth Eyles as the first of our Headline Speakers. Ruth is a professional cycling coach and closely involved with the British Cycling coaching programme – in addition to being a recent recruit to ringing. Cycling has acted to reduce the ‘barriers to entry’ of participating in cycling as a hobby. New events at all stages of ability, from family run rides to marshaled ‘sportives’ are attracting thousands of participants. This ease of entry and acceptance of new starter capabilities has enabled more new people to become cyclists, and many have then transitioned to more advanced ‘traditional’ cycling activates. Ruth drew parallels with her experience of learning to ring, to suggest that greater use of basic exercises provides a pathway into ringing which is more gently and immediately attainable for a new ringer than method ringing. Ruth finished by highlighted a theme which reappeared through-out the day, saying that modern lifestyles need a different approach - ringing must be flexible around busy and changing work-life patterns and participants are looking for goals over foreseeable periods such as 3-6 months rather than years.
After questions from the floor, Ruth was followed by Arthur Reeves of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing. Arthur discussed the Ringing Summer Camps that they had held in 2012 and 2013, which have successfully formed a strong group of young ringers in the Birmingham area. In his presentation, Arthur demonstrated some of the activities they used during the Summer Camp as well as the challenges and successes they experienced. Arthur finished by reflecting on their current scheme using a group of Saturday morning towers to provide focused sessions for the Leaning the Ropes levels. Each tower focused on a Level and ringers move up the towers as they progress.
Following a lunch provided by local ringers, and time to chat with teachers from across the country, the afternoon provided attendees with a selection of workshops and presentations. These provided an interesting array of opportunities, including how to give better feedback, using a simulator for training and an account of restarting ringing in silent towers.
The event finished with the first presentation of the new ART Recruitment DVD.
Feedback requested from attendees was very positive, and we will try to build on any constructive ideas. It was an enlightening and informative day that provided a great opportunity to network and collaborate with other teachers.
Looking ahead to 2015, the resolution of the AGM was to hold the event on Saturday 7 March. Simon Linford, of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing, has kindly offered to host the event in Birmingham. We hope that the central location will enable many more of the growing group of ITTS Teachers from around the country to join us. There is even a possibility that the Conference will be a two day event next year!
Thank you to all our presenters and all who travelled to South Wales. Please add 7th March 2015 to your diaries – we look forward to seeing you there!