Teacher Training at MATTS during the
Covid-19 Pandemic

Screenshot of large 'special event' MATTS Zoom Class 11th March 2021

Last update to this page: 10/5/2021

Since April 2020 we have been operating as a part-time training course through a combination of individual lessons, online group classes and some homework. We hope to resume some normal classes within the legal limit of 6 participants from 21st May and completely normal classes from 21st June.

Rationale for training format: It would be very difficult to re-open our school in the usual way at the moment whilst staying in full compliance with government regulations. This is because quite different rules apply to schools and to close-contact work, and combining them is almost completely unpracticable. Furthermore, because so many of our teachers (and some of our students) are in higher risk groups, safety must be our first priority. (update 29/3/21 – all of these have now received at least one vaccination which recent studies suggest reduces risk of infection by about 60%, risk of mild illness by about 70% and risk of more serious outcomes by nearly 100%).

To be in full compliance with regulations we are limited to online teaching, private lessons and homework. Because we believe that eight hours each week of this format is the maximum that will work well, we have decided that part-time training is our optimal choice for student well-being and progress.

MATTS is re-opening after a 3 year break, and all but one of our students is in their first term. Students are able to complete their first term of training over the course of the next two terms through this exceptional arrangement, after which we hope to be able to return to our originally proposed training format.

Training consists of a combination of the following input each week during term time: two hands-on private lessons, the two continuing Zoom classes (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 am - 12 pm), and some set homework. Our plan is to work this way for this term (September 2020) and probably next (January 2021), after which we hope there will be an effective vaccine freely available so that we can return to normal classes in reasonable safety.

(update 29/3/21 – Wednesday classes have been suspended until students can re-balance private lessons with Zoom classes undertaken since the start of the lockdown in January 2021)

Private lessons: Students are encouraged to have at least 75% of their lessons with Peter Bloch, Malcolm Williamson, Jane Osgood and Liz Hulse, the leading training course teachers. We will not be making this a fixed rule, especially for students who live at a greater distance from Manchester. However, students will be asked to ensure that, at a minimum, no less than half of their lessons are taken with these teachers. Other lessons can be taken with the teacher(s) of their choice. Lessons will not need to take place exactly as two each week, as long as they average that over the term as a minimum (total: 24).

Teachers will always be putting safety first and meeting or exceeding government guidelines for 'close contact' work. More information can be found here. If a teacher is not yet able to follow government guidelines, then we strongly recommend that students do not have lessons with them at this time. (Update 12/4/21 we will be able to resume individual lessons from this week)

Small Groups: organising these whilst complying with government regulations is more complicated, due to greater difficulty managing this safely. Occasional groups will be made available, but only for students who are not shielding. Nearly all of our students are in their first term, and will effectively continue to be so (with half-time training) for both this term and next. Since the first priority in the first term of training is improvement in students’ own Use, we do not believe that postponing hands-on groups until the second term will have a significant effect on the overall quality of training. 

Zoom Classes: students are required to attend most classes but, where they cannot, will be expected to catch up from the posted audios and videos before the end of term. There will be a charge for students of £6 per Zoom class going forward. This money will be spent on paying for the Zoom Pro app and paying a small fee to each of the teachers that contribute to the classes. 

Zoom Classes will continue as last term to be for two hours twice (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 am – 12 pm) each week. The Zoom format can be quite demanding and most experts seem to agree that two hours with a short break is optimal. Students will be supported in producing their own risk assessment for attending these classes. Classes will continue to be organised (with exceptions for special events) around a format of guided semi-supine, a game and a talk. We expect classes to continue to have input from a wide range of different senior teachers, including several Heads of Training. (update 29/3/21 – Wednesday classes have been suspended because we have been unable to meet for the balancing individual lessons since December).

For the autumn term, talks on Wednesdays will be mostly on anatomy & physiology, how to keep a reflective diary and discussions about the theoretical principles of the Technique. Thursday lectures will be centred around Malcolm’s readings and commentary on FM’s books and several special events. The first four Thursday lectures have already been scheduled and will consist of 1. How to work safely during Covid; 2. American senior teacher and tennis pro Gary Adelman on the application of the AT to tennis playing; 3. A talk by Alex Murray summarizing "60 years of thinking, reading and writing" about the AT; 4. A lecture by Malcolm Williamson on MSI.

(update 29/3/21 – since February 2021, Thursday classes have been changed over to a “Masterclass” format, with lectures and practical work led by very senior teachers, including Alex Murray, Robin Simmons, John Nicholls, Dorothea Magonet and Brita Forsstrom and lectures on other relevant subjects such as scientific research on the AT and keeping reflective practice. This format will continue next term).

Homework: As the term goes on, we will develop a routine of set homework consisting of regular semi-supine and some private reading. Students will be taught how to keep a reflective diary and strongly encouraged to do so. Students will be provided with regular updates and suggestions for further learning (including online classes provided by STAT and others) on the special trainee webpage.

Cost of Training: the addition of the small cost of Zoom classes (£6 per class) to the cost of private lessons (and possibly the occasional group) may mean that the total costs of training may be slightly higher (depending on which teachers students see) than they would otherwise have been for half time training. We expect that much or all of this will be offset by reduced travel costs, etc. However, should this change of format put anyone in unexpected difficulty, for this or for any other reason, students are invited to contact me directly to discuss how we can make this work for them.


(Update 5/5/21 it is looking increasingly likely that we will be able to resume small classes from 19th May and larger classes in late June)


Some further notes for students:

Please keep your own record of your attendance at private lessons and Zoom Classes.

A reminder that STAT has already approved claims of up to 36 hours of training for attendance at Zoom classes during the first full lockdown in the Summer Term of 2020.

As always, I recommend that you visit the update page in the Member's Section regularly for updates and interesting information.