Teacher Training at MATTS during the
Update 22 December 2022
We continue to run high quality HEPA filters in every room, and to open windows even in the winter months.
Viruses - some guidance to help you decide if you should come into the school
Over the last year, several people have told me that they were unsure whether they should come in when they might be infected with one of the many viruses "doing the rounds" at the moment, including colds, tummy bugs, influenza and coronavirus.
1) Coronavirus: Please do not come in if you are acutely ill with Coronavirus: it can still be a dangerous disease and can have serious long-term effects. First of all, if you feel unwell, please take a LFT for coronavirus, and repeat daily for several days if symptoms persist. If you do not have your own LFTs, I keep a supply on the desk in the library room. Most pharmacies stock these, or ask someone to bring one to you in your car, or to your home if you are very unwell.
Current government advice is that if you have a positive test, you should assume you are infectious for 5 days after symptoms start, although there is a small chance that you will remain infectious for up to 10 days. If you feel recovered, you can return to the school after 5 days, but please make sure to wear a properly fitted Type II mask for a further week (see below) and sit apart during the tea break.
If you do not feel very unwell, and your test result is negative, then you are unlikely to be infected with Coronavirus, but it is still best to wear a mask for a few days "just in case" (see below).
2) Other infections: If your symptoms include fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, then the usual advice is that you should wait a full 24 hours after these symptoms have resolved before mixing with others.
3) Common Cold: If you believe that your symptoms are simply those of the common cold, then you should not come in during the most acute phase of the illness: generally, the first 2-3 days of symptoms are when you are at your most infectious. However, since colds can be infectious for up to two weeks, and also because many symptoms (such as cough and runny nose) can persist long after you are likely to be infectious, this should not prevent you from coming in, although you are encouraged to wear a mask (see below) and to make liberal use of hand sanitiser.
The Type II disposable masks on the desk, when properly worn, are rated as reducing the usual risk of transmission of all viruses by 98%, which makes the absolute risk of infecting someone else very low risk indeed. A clear plan to wear one of these if in doubt about your health status would be much appreciated.
Update 6 June 2022
MATTS re-opened as an in-person four days per week training course for teachers on 8th September 2021. During the recent "Covid lockdowns" we were unable to meet in groups for long periods and, with the support of STAT, developed a special training protocol to continue with part-time training during this period.
We will leave the information about our pandemic training protocol (see lower down this page) posted for now, for the interest of students and teachers and in case there is another restriction on our ability to meet as a group.
Now that we are again meeting together as a group, we continue to take precautions against Covid. We provide as much ventilation as possible, run high quality HEPA filters in all the classrooms at all times, and enable working in the garden when the weather permits. All students and teachers are encouraged to take occasional rapid antigen (lateral flow) tests at home, and we have these available here also. Teachers and students are no longer required to wear masks when working together, but are welcome to do so if they prefer. We keep a ready supply of disposable masks.
Further information for students and teachers about Covid precautions: We believe that everyone is now fully vaccinated – if you are not, please let Peter know. If you have reason to believe that you may have become infected with Covid, it is best for you not to attend until you are able to check your status. If you think there is a possibility that you may have been exposed, but that the risk was very small, then please take a daily lateral flow test, try to work outside as much as possible and wear a properly fitted mask. If you are yourself particularly vulnerable for medical reasons, or you are shielding for someone who is, please wear a properly fitted FFP2 (N95) mask, or equivalent, which offers a very high degree of protection, and have your tea outdoors. Disposable masks are always available. Remember to bring a jumper for working in the garden.
Training Protocol for Training During the Covid Pandemic, April 2020 - July 2021
From April 2020 - July 2021 we operated as a part-time training course through a combination of individual lessons, online group classes and some homework. Details below.
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.
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.