Intensive training – why, what and how

Not only do new recruits expect intensive training, but research clearly demonstrates that intensive training leads to faster learning. The more regularly a ringer attends practices, the quicker they learn to handle a bell competently, not just in terms of numbers of weeks elapsed but also in the number of hours they spend on the end of a bell rope. The more frequently an activity is practised the less is lost in between practices.

Intensive training is both frequent and concentrated so that more of what has been learned is retained between sessions.

Different versions of intensive training

It is likely that 10 to 15 hours will be needed to get your ringer to the stage where they can ring a bell independently, raise and lower a bell, set at hand or back at will and be ready to start ringing with others. Several handling lessons on successive days is ideal and twice a week should be considered the minimum.

Various ways of providing this intensive training have been successful:

  • Two full days on consecutive Saturdays.
  • Learn to ring in a weekend.
  • Evenings (1½ hours) for a week or two.
  • Afternoons (1½ hours) for a week or two.
  • Group sessions over a concentrated period of time.
  • A week’s course.

At the beginning of the intensive training set a date for ringing with others on untied bells – it is really motivating to have this to aim for. Enjoy the look on the new ringer’s face when they hear their bell for the first time!

When moving on to ringing with others, the extra concentration required is likely to result in less focus being placed on handling style. It is highly likely that further handling lessons will be needed when the ringer starts ringing with others to ensure development of good ringing style.

What can be achieved in a week?

They started on Monday and this is what they were like on the Friday, after 10 hours of tuition ... a little bit of finessing to do but next step will be ringing with others.

Right at the beginning – the practical side

If teaching children or vulnerable adults you should obtain a permission to ring form and be DBS checked. Ensure you always have another adult present. You should use sound control or silence the bell (using a rope, inner tube or motorcycle tyre) to ensure the handling training is not audible outside. Make sure your new ringer is aware of all safety issues and what to do if control is lost.

And afterwards?

High quality, intensive bell handling training, typically has a retention rate of about 80%

Many more ringers are lost in the period after this early bell handling stage, on their way to being able to ring their first couple of methods inside. Providing the right opportunities and support to your new ringers during this stage is vitally important. Ideally there needs to be an equivalent to intensive bell handling training right through to ringing methods, however this level of teaching intensity is difficult to maintain. There are different ways of keeping your new ringers interested through these foundation stages which other teachers have found work. See if you can apply them in your tower or local area.


Intensive training the Maids Moreton way

I call it a recruitment exercise that went wrong. A tower open day generated 13 people who wanted to learn to ring. Whilst obviously a fantastic response, it also resulted in much scratching of heads in the planning meeting in the pub – how on earth were we going to capitalise on this bounty? The traditional way of teaching wasn’t going to work so we decided to do something completely different; we’d take intensive teaching to the extreme and commit to getting everyone up to ringing rounds on four within a month. This being a leap year February gave us 29 days!

Lesley Belcher


» A children’s Summer camp

We can confidently say all students delivered and were very close to completing Level One of the “Learning the Ropes” scheme. All could handle a bell and were beginning to ring in rounds by the Saturday outing. Some were even ringing call changes at Worcester Ringing Centre, something I would not have believed had you told me at the start of the week.

Arthur Reeves

From nothing to open rounds in 3 weeks

Having access to practise for long sessions meant that I was able to solidify techniques quickly. This gave me the confidence required when it was finally time to ring with five other ringers on open bells at my first practice night just three weeks after my first tentative pull on a bell rope. I am sure that it would have taken months to get to this stage without the ability to have extended time on the end of the rope with only snatched goes in between more experienced ringers on a practice night.

Cathryn Stokes

What's next?

» Return to the recruitment and retention home page

» Return to read more about recruitment success or go to the next part of the ten point plan - keeping your new ringers interested