Training within an Accredited Training Centre – Towpath Talk, April 2016

Continuing our series illustrating the diversity of the National Community Boats Association.  This month director of training Derek Stansfield looks at his home project in Skipton.

Usually several days are set aside at the Skipton and Craven Action for Disability (SCAD) project  that are dedicated to Training.  This meets a requirement for the project maintaining, firstly their status as an Accredited Training Centre (ATC), and secondly for the currency of the qualifications of the Skippers.  SCAD go further than the mandatory requirements in that they provide additional training that allow those crew members who wish to develop their skills further.  As they have ten qualified Skippers and some 20+ crew members then this is quite an undertaking.In order to structure this training into the busy schedule of the boat, which is used extensively with clients as well as for some of the NCBA Trainers Courses and Trainer Refresher Training, it generally takes place in the month of March, which in our northern climes means the weather can be a little inclement.  The staffing structure for the SCAD boat is to have two Skippers and about 3/4 crew members who are deployed to a dedicated day of the week (Monday to Friday).  The Skippers are responsible for the training of their own crew and again this normally takes place prior to the start of the season.

As usual the main training week took place in March this year and consisted three elements: one for developing skills; one for the annual Skippers training day and one for the Friday crew training.  The first of these was for those crew members who wished to hone their helming skills without the liability, responsibility or distraction of having passengers on board.  The day was spent on one of the daily routes between Skipton and Gargrave on the Leeds/Liverpool canal.  They were able to cover essential skills of leaving and approaching a mooring, travelling along the waterway, operating and manoeuvring through swing and fix bridges, winding  and reversing, all of which were undertaken in cold and windy conditions.

The following day was the Skippers training day.  This is the one  day every year when  there  is the opportunity to get all the skippers together, who would otherwise be operating on their dedicated day.  Besides updating them on any new developments and procedures within both SCAD and the NCBA they have the chance to take the boat on a longer trip than what would be their normal routes.  This is achieved by instead of returning to base as would be the norm it is taken further and moored overnight, which this year was to East Marten, where there is the well known double bridge.  The journey entailed negotiating some 11 locks so proved to be a good bonding experience as well as an enjoyable trip.  Again the cold and windy weather tested their boating skills, especially on the open and exposed stretches.  It also provided the opportunity for the two Trainers to arrange and explain the monitoring process whereby they will join a Skipper and crew during one of their normal trips with clients and to reassure them that his a supportive process as much as anything else.

As mentioned the Skippers are responsible for the induction and training of their own crew.  Whilst this follows a set syllabus it is up to the Skipper to determine how and when this is done.  The Friday crew jumped in and ‘bagged’ the pleasure of bringing the boat back to its base in Snaygill Marina, thus giving them chance to experience lengths of the canal outside their operating range with clients.

This then is just one method that a Project will choose to meet and implement its own procedures whilst at the same ensuring that they also meet the requirements for maintaining their status as an ATC.  It is not the only method and may not necessarily be the best but is one that fits the bill for SCAD.

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