MATTS is a STAT-approved training course for teachers made up of 1600 class hours and some home study. Graduates are certified by STAT and are eligible to join the Society as full teaching members.
Full-time training usually takes three years. However, nowadays it is possible to train part-time over a longer period while still meeting essential criteria.
The MATTS course, in common with other training courses, aims to assist the student on a path of integrated personal growth and development through applying the principles of the Technique in daily life, the fundamental basis for a career as a teacher of the Technique.
The course has an essentially practical orientation. Students learn through their own experience, thereby developing the self-knowledge needed to assist others to learn the Technique.
Term dates are listed on this page.
Philosophy and Aims
Training as an Alexander Technique teacher (as well as working as an Alexander Teacher) is a balanced combination of a path of personal growth and vocational training.
The MATTS approach continues in a long tradition of training courses pioneered by Alexander himself and further developed by his assistant, Walter Carrington (later with his wife Dilys Carrington) and other notable successors, including Patrick Macdonald and Marjory Barlow. This approach is organised around the individual’s own experience, insights and learning process. It adheres closely to traditional methods of training in refined skills where a clear and consistent emphasis on basic principles is seen as the true foundation of a sound training. This is because it is only once these basic principles are adequately understood, and can be applied consistently in the teaching situation, that each individual teacher has a basis from which to further explore and develop.
A celebration of different teaching styles
MATTS teachers are committed to the exploring a wide variety of teaching methods and skills (within the context of a training rooted in principle) in order to support teachers to feel empowered to become the kind of teacher that works best for them.
A safe and supportive learning environment
A safe environment is one in which students and teachers feel secure and confident to explore new ideas and experiences; to take the risks in thought and action that bring about true change, and to grow in the well-founded self-reliance needed to become an effective teacher.
In addition to the example (exemplar/modelling) of MATTS teachers, students are be encouraged intellectually to explore and understand the principles that create such an environment. For example, during the training there will be a series of interactive talks by two academic psychologists on the modern ‘person-centred’ philosophy of education and subjects such as ethics in teaching relationships will also be covered.
The primary aim of an AT lesson (and the larger part of the training consists of AT lessons in various forms), is to provide a student with the best possible opportunity to experience an improving manner of “Use”, and this is most often experienced as very rewarding. However, at some points during their training most students will feel confused, or be lacking in confidence, or feel strongly challenged. We make every effort to see that students are given the space and support to work through these periods at their own pace, supported by our care, constructive feedback and the celebration of their progress.
Our teachers and students are all very different individuals, and we love that! And, whilst recognising the role of unconsious bias, we celebrate diversity and inclusivity and reject prejudice and discrimination of any kind.
The participation of all
Everyone connected with the school (qualified teachers and trainees alike) is encouraged and expected to take an active interest in, and responsibility for, the welfare of the school and the on-going development of the course.
Teachers on AT training courses serve more than they sometimes realise as personal examples or models of the profession for students.
Students on AT training courses are generally mature adults and are encouraged as such to take responsibility for their own regular attendance and their development (with the support of the teachers) into highly skilled, professional exponents of the Technique.
Whilst being always aware that a beginning student has a rather different level of skill than an experienced teacher nonetheless, and at every stage, we are all dedicated to growing in our understanding of the same principles together, each in our own unique way.
Key Aims of the training
The MATTS course centres around the development of the trainee’s own "manner of use" in life in general and in the teaching situation. Instruction is based on the trainers’ own experience and, in particular, the approach developed by Walter and Dilys Carrington at the Constructive Teaching Centre in London. Walter Carrington worked closely with Alexander and continued the methods and ethos of the original training course established by Alexander in 1931.
The most important parts of an Alexander Technique professional training is to develop trainees’ understanding of the core principles and teaching methods of the Technique and to enable them to teach in an effective, open-minded, ethical and self-directed manner. The emphasis is on empowering individual students to take charge of their own development, in particular by managing their own process of change in their general manner of Use of themselves and of their teaching skills.
Part of a thorough training is helping students to understand that being awarded a certificate is, in some ways, only the start of a continuing journey of growth in understanding and skill on which most people need support to succeed. All teachers, and most especially new teachers, can benefit from CPD. Isolation can lead to a loss of confidence and skills needed to build a successful practice.
We continue in the MATTS tradition of encouraging teachers to visit the school as often as they would like after graduation without charge (except for the usual small, voluntary donation on Thursdays towards overheads). Should the school close in the future, we expect to be able to continue to provide an environment, or see to it that an environment is created, such as existed in the ‘Thursday Classes’ throughout the recent period during which MATTS was closed, designed to provide easily accessible, regular CPD support for teachers at a nominal cost.
Course structure and general outline
The course timetable can be found on this page.
Principally through experience, but also through academic study, students are guided to an understanding of the basic principles of the Technique: Primary Movement/Primary Control, Unreliable Sensory Appreciation, Use affects Functioning, Psycho-Physical Unity, Inhibition and Direction, and the relationship between Means and Ends, including the practical and theoretical meaning of the terms ‘means-whereby’ and ‘end-gaining’. An understanding of the force of habit, and of how the principles of the Technique can be applied systematically to overcome this, is at the core of the training.
Practical orientation - MATTS, in common with all Alexander Technique trainings, has an essentially practical orientation (80%) supplemented by lectures (20%) and self-study. Students learn principally through their own experience, thereby developing the self-knowledge needed to assist others to learn the Technique. Daily class mainly comprises individual ‘hands-on’ mini-lessons (‘turns’), directed activities (‘games’), supervised hands-on practice in small groups to develop teaching skills (‘groups’) and series of lectures and readings (‘talks’).
‘Turns’ – Assisting students to improve their own Use is the foundation and the indispensable part of any training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique. With a high ratio of teachers to students, and a high proportion of very experienced teachers, students are offered training well in excess of STAT minimum requirements, both in terms of quality and quantity.
‘Games’ - Students are guided, through a series of ‘Games’ in the application of the principles of the Technique to everyday activities such as lifting and carrying, using a computer and mobile technology, climbing stairs, walking, running the basics of saddle work, voice work, the Dart procedures and much more.
The training includes all of the core procedures used in the teaching of the Technique including: chair work, table work, ‘monkey’, walking, squatting, up on the toes, wall work, lunge, hands-on-back-of-chair and the whispered ’ah’ and directing in “semi-supine”, often within the context of the daily ‘Game’.
‘Groups’ - Students undertake supervised hands-on work from the start. The central goal of all hands-on practice is to prioritise the individual student’s general manner of Use, this being carefully maintained whilst gradually undertaking, through a step-by-step programme under the guidance of an experienced teacher, increasingly demanding activities as required in the usual teaching procedures.
‘Talks’ - Most of the book readings, discussions in class and the private study of students, are aimed at an understanding of the principles and the use of the procedures outlined in Alexander’s books. Daily readings and lectures are geared towards a growing knowledge of the books of Alexander and the history and principles of the AT. These are supplemented by readings and discussions based on other important books on the Technique.
Alexander’s four books form the core study material together with other writing on the Technique and related subjects. The training is based on the principles laid down in F.M Alexander’s four books.
Lecture courses include basic anatomy and physiology, an overview and assessment of current research on the AT, the basic theory and practice of education including ethics, educational theory, psychology and ethics, sports and performing arts pedagogy, science-based studies in human potential, basic neuroscience (especially as relates to pain), basic training in ‘red flag’ recognition and common relevant medical conditions (including an emphasis on the limits of competence and the need for referral). Understanding of the Technique is informed by the trend for greater collaboration between areas of scientific study.
Homework - trainees are required to complete at least 8 hours of home study each week, including the application of the Technique to daily activities, reading the books of FM Alexander, keeping a reflective diary (students are given guidance and support in how to do this) and special topic preparation. Later in training, homework includes the preparation of public talks and courses on the AT and the careful reading of the STAT Code of Professional Conduct and Professional Competence and other STAT policies.
Stages of training
Year 1 - Training focuses on individual trainee's learning, to improve his or her own self-awareness and manner of Use, an indispensable pre-requisite for teaching an improved use of the self to others. Short, one-to-one "turns" (mini-lessons) are the basis of the practical training, together with work in small groups. Alongside this, there is study of the written works of F M Alexander and other related literature.
Year 2 - The second year focuses more on learning to maintain one's own self-awareness and poise whilst working with others and on developing the refined manual skills and psycho-physical procedures used in teaching the Alexander Technique. Considerable class hours are required to develop in the trainee the acute sensitivity of hand contact required. There is further study of related topics to give the trainees sufficient knowledge to understand the intellectual and scientific concepts underlying the work.
Year 3 - The final year focuses on the practical aspects of Alexander teaching. The trainee progresses from practising on colleagues to supervised practice with people from outside the course. The habits of disciplined self-awareness developed in the first two years are put to the test in this situation, as the trainees must gradually learn how to maintain a satisfactory standard in the use of themselves as they work with others if they are to have the sensitivity required to help a new pupil. Development of verbal teaching instruction and presentational skills are also included, and there is some study of the psychological and ethical aspects of both learning and teaching the Alexander Technique. Students are given some guidance in the practical skills required to manage their own teaching practice.
Preparation for teaching
As part of the training there will be a review of the STAT professional codes of conduct and competence and some formal guidance on working with individuals and groups and building and managing a successful practice.
In their final year students where possible are given opportunities to sit in on and, when ready, assist with group adult education classes and public talks. There are many such courses and talks in the area each year offered by regular MATTS teachers.* In addition, where possible, final term students are offered opportunities to shadow local teachers in their private teaching.
*In addition, outside the formal structure of our course, Jenny Fox-Eades teaches adult education classes in Macclesfield and South Manchester and welcomes teachers and trainee teachers as teachers and/or as assistants or students for a nominal fee. Jenny has more than 30 years' experience (6 with the A.T.) teaching groups and a PhD in Well-being in Education. She also has professional qualifications in group skills and dynamics. As well as modelling the skills that make teaching in general, and group teaching in particular, a joy and a success, Jenny explains to visiting teachers and trainee teachers the group processes and dynamics behind these skills and provides safe opportunities for them to practice the skills for themselves in a supportive environment.
There are no formal entry requirements but candidates must generally be of sound health, character and education. These are defined loosely – for example, many types of health problem would not lead to the rejection of a candidate and a life rich in experience or private study would certainly qualify as a substitute for formal education. However, candidates must be in sufficiently good health to be able to participate (with reasonable allowances) in the three year training, of good enough character to be able to work well with other people in an intensive environment for three years and to possess the personal professional and social skills required of a teacher of the AT and to be sufficiently educated to be able to make adequate use (allowing for some assistance) of the more theoretical and philosophical aspects of the training and of the Technique.
A reasonable course of instruction in the Alexander Technique on the basis of individual lessons (ideally at least 40, or the equivalent in training class visits) is presumed. However the Alexander Technique, and the principles upon which it is based, are fundamental to ALL activities and almost any form of previous training or experience can be an advantage.
Prospective students need to demonstrate a compelling interest in deepening their understanding of the Alexander Technique. Our work is at least as much a vocation as a profession; neither students nor qualified teachers are likely to succeed without such an interest.
Prospective students need to demonstrate a compelling interest in their own personal development. Change is often profoundly challenging, and it unlikely to be consistently undertaken by those who do not have a strong desire to grow.
Candidates must be aged at least 18 years and it is generally acknowledged that those over 21 years with some life experience are more suited to this training. There is no upper limit on the age of candidates so long as they are in good general health.
Entry requires the completion of an Application Form and an interview with the Course Director, the Director Emeritus and the Assistant Director. This includes ‘hands-on’ working as in a typical Alexander lesson. Both the interview and hands-on work may be waived for frequent visitors who we have come to know well.
Students are required to become Student Members of STAT (see below).
All students are initially accepted on to the MATTS course on a probationary basis.
Prospective candidates are strongly encouraged to visit the school on several occasions before applying.
STAT Student Membership
On commencement of their course, students must become ‘Student Members’ of STAT and agree to be bound by its rules. In particular, students entering the training course must agree not to teach the Alexander Technique except under the supervision of the Head of Training, nor hold themselves out as teachers of the Alexander Technique until the Head of Training has recommended them for certification and this has been approved by the Council of the Society.
Student Members receive regular mailings and are encouraged to attend the Annual Conference (though student member may not vote) and to participate in the Student Network Programme.
A fee is charged by the Society of Teachers (STAT) to cover membership, moderation and certification via the moderation route (generally, the moderation route is only for full-time training, see 'Assessment and Qualification' below). Membership costs £58/year (2021) and there is a list of the benefits and information on how to apply near the bottom of this page on the STAT website.
The benefits of a STAT-approved training course are listed on the STAT website here.
Completing your training at MATTS
We make an informal commitment to new students to complete their training over a three year period and, having agreed to train a student, we will do our best to honour this commitment. However, in the unlikely event that circumstances make this no longer practical or possible, then we will do everything we can to see to it that the students are able to complete their training in the Manchester area. We have an exceptionally strong and collaborative base of teachers in Greater Manchester, and we expect that if problems should arise with MATTS then the training of students would not be interrupted. Failing that, there are other training courses available throughout the UK and the long-established Fellside course in Kendal is within day-travelling distance of Greater Manchester.
Should students wish to join the training when we are not able to make a reasonably confident commitment to them for a full three years, we will do our best to be completely clear how long we expect that the school will remain open. MATTS was started in 2001 on exactly this basis. However, we quickly found that a sufficient number of new students continued to appear who wished to train. Should this be the case once again, then we hope the school will remain open for at least a further 10 years (from 2020).
If, at any point, we find ourselves unable to continue with the course, then we would again do our upmost to provide an extended period of training during which affected students would be able to visit other courses so as to be able to prepare well in advance to complete their training elsewhere.
Completing your training at MATTS as a STAT-approved training course
This is a time of rapidly evolving rules for STAT-approved training courses, especially with regard to part-time training. In addition, the needs of the MATTS students and teachers may change over time. Because of this, we are not able to guarantee to students that MATTS will continue to be ‘STAT approved’ throughout their training. Should this status change, our students will continue to receive a first-class standard of training and will still be eligible to join STAT as teaching members at the end of their training via ‘Assessment’.
Course fees are currently (2020/21) £6,000 per year in three termly instalments, payable at the start of each term. If fees are increased over the course of the three year training, this will usually be by no more than the lowest measure of the rate of inflation. Students who would prefer not to commit to a regular full-time training schedule will normally be asked to pay at the rate of £50/class (see Part-Time Training below).
Full time training usually takes three years. However, nowadays many students choose to train part-time and are free to choose from a wide range of options in their training schedule. It is a condition of training at MATTS that students undertake to attend for a minimum average of two training days each week over the course of each year, and preferably rather more. A minimum of three days each week is strongly recommended (but not required) in the last year of training. This is because intensity of training is generally considered to be an important part of the process of reaching the level of skill required to teach the Technique.
Students who would prefer not to commit to a regular full-time training schedule pay at the rate of £50/class, payable either weekly or at the end of each half term as the student prefers. This is a slightly higher rate than full-time training (about 17% pro rata) intended to cover some of the extra costs to the training course of being unable to plan reliably for the number of students that will attend each day (and therefore the number of teachers that will be required to ensure a good teacher-student ratio) and of ensuring that part-time students are still able to cover the most important parts of the training over the course of their studies. Since it is not uncommon for full-time students to miss at least some training days, it is expected that the extra expense incurred by most part-time students will, in practice, be very small.
Assessment and Qualification
There is be an ongoing informal assessment of each trainee jointly by the Director, the ‘Director Emeritus’, the Assistant Director and the co-Assistant Director in consultation with other regular teachers. They consider the students’ growth and development, particularly with regard to Alexander Technique skills and understanding through daily hands-on work (one-to-one and group work), projects and discussion.
Should progress be significantly slower than expected, if attendance is poor, or if a project is not satisfactorily completed, the course Director will meet with the student with the aim of resolving the problem. Should these problems indicate that a student may not reach a satisfactory standard, then they may be asked to undertake additional training and/or re-work and re-submit a project. This discussion will take place by the middle of the penultimate term of training.
The course is based on attendance of 1600 class hours over a minimum of three years and home study. Although it is expected that most students will complete their training successfully after three years of full time training, or the equivalent amount of part-time training, acceptance on to the course in no way implies automatic qualification. If a question arises over a student’s readiness to qualify, then he or she will be informed immediately and is usually encouraged to complete extra training on payment of the usual fees (see previous paragraph).
It is a condition of the training that trainees must undertake not to present themselves as teachers of the Technique, nor teach the Technique except under approved supervision, until they have qualified from the course and have been certified by STAT.
The ‘Moderation Route’ to qualification (full-time study)
Until very recently, all students were expected to train full-time over a three year period. On successful completion of three years of training, students were qualified as teachers by the Director of their training course with the support of the STAT Moderator and invited to join STAT as teaching members. This route to qualification remains open to full time students.
Assessment and qualification is based mostly on continuous assessment throughout the course by the Head of Training and other regular teachers. Additionally, students are ‘moderated’ (formative assessment) in their sixth (or equivalent point if training part-time) and final terms by a STAT Moderator. The Moderator will provide feedback at the time verbally and subsequently through a written report. The Moderator’s reports will inform the teaching staff, as well as the students themselves.
Should MATTS not continue to be STAT-approved (see bottom of section "Admission Criteria"), students will continue to be eligible to join STAT via the ‘Assessment’ route on completion of 1600 hours of training.
The ‘Assessment Route’ to qualification (part-time study)
STAT is moving towards qualification by assessment for all students. Currently, this applies only to those with a 'non-standard' training. Students may choose to undertake training part-time and, on completion of 1600 hours of training may apply (at their own expense) to STAT to be assessed. This process takes about half a day and involves an examination of the student based on the criteria below, with special emphasis on the student’s competence in the second and fourth items. The assessment panel is made of up three teachers, the director of the training course, the moderator of the training course and an external assessor appointed by STAT.
At the moment, assessment is based on the following criteria as outlined in the STAT TCP, Section 6:
A student can only qualify after completing 1600 hours on a training course
The ability to convey, both manually and verbally an understanding of F M Alexander’s terms such as Use, Inhibition, Direction, Primary Control, End-gaining, Doing and Non-doing
The ability to exhibit a substantial knowledge of FM Alexander’s life and the history of the Technique
The ability to effect a positive change in the Use of a pupil
The ongoing expectation of positive change of their own Use
Although these points are likely to continue to form the central basis of Assessment, as it is a new formula the finer details are still being finalised and clarified.
Students may expect our best advice on when to present themselves for Assessment. In cases where students do not pass assessment, they will be offered detailed guidance from the assessment panel as to where further development in skills is most needed in order to meet the required standard. Students are free to re-present themselves for assessment after a period of further study.
Although STAT will assess anyone for membership who has completed 1600 hours of recognised training, it is a condition of training at MATTS that students undertake a minimum of half-time (an average of two training days per week) of study over the course of each year. For more details, see the section on part-time training above.
MATTS graduates are automatically entitled to join STAT as a Teaching Member. STAT is the oldest and by far the largest representative body of AT teachers and is affiliated with all of the largest AT professional bodies worldwide. STAT Teaching Members are entitled (but not required) to join the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, which is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
The literature on the Alexander Technique is extensive. In addition to simple introductory books, there are many others intended for special interest groups, such as musicians, actors, horse riders, runners, swimmers etc. as well as books intended for teachers of the Technique. Papers on the Technique have been published in many journals.
All of the most essential books are in the MATTS library, so you can have a look at them and borrow them from there if you wish. If you plan to teach the Technique, you should own copies of Alexander's four books:
Man’s Supreme Inheritance (1918)
Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (1923)
The Use of the Self (1932)
The Universal Constant in Living (1941)
The most recent editions of all these books are all available from Mouritz, although used copies sometimes become available at the school and school group orders from Mouritz save on P&P.
Carrington, W and Carey, S Explaining the Alexander Technique, Sheildrake Press 1992
Carrington, W Thinking Aloud, Mornum Time Press 1994
Carrington, W The Act of Living, Mornum Time Press 1999
Jones, F P Freedom to Change (1976), Mouritz, 1997
Westfeldt, Lulie F. Matthias Alexander: The Man and His Work (1964), Mouritz 1998
Binkley, Goddard The Expanding Self, STAT Books 1993
Macdonald, Patrick The Alexander Technique as I See It (1989), Mouritz 2015
The recommended reading list on anatomy and physiology, health education, educational psychology, etc. are given at appropriate times during the course. When possible, books will be available on loan to students from the MATTS Library and from course tutors.
Student Support and Feedback
As described above (Philosophy and Aims), a foundational aim of the course is the creation of a supportive and safe learning environment.
As such, on an ongoing basis, students benefit from support and feedback from the regular teachers, visiting teachers and the other students. In particular:
Student well-being is informally monitored by the regular teaching staff (and discussed as necessary and as part of teachers’ meetings (see below).
Students have the support of the Moderator.
The course Director arranges an informal meeting with each student once a term to check that all is well.
Students are also encouraged to meet with a second teacher of their choice once each term.
Students are given guidance and support in the maintenance of a reflective diary of their training to clarify and enhance their learning, and as an aid to self-assessment. Students are given the opportunity to review their use of their diary individually with the module tutor.
Students are encouraged to join the STAT student network and to continue to visit the school after graduation (see above, ‘Postgraduate Support’).
As part of usual good practice to improve training, we regularly seek feedback from the students on their experience of the teaching and other aspects of the running of the school. As such, we actively encourage ongoing feedback and provide an annual opportunity for students to provide anonymously their comments and suggestions. Teachers are also be encouraged to provide feedback with a view to constant improvement of the training experience.
There are regular meetings of the MATTS teachers to allow us to share our experiences, plan the training on an ongoing basis and to discuss progress of the students. Teachers are also be encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions. In this way we hope to detect problems early and to make further improvements in the running of the school.
In line with current STAT Training Course Practice (section 18), students are invited to use a feedback form based on the STAT template during and on completion of their training and to nominate a student representative.
Formal questions or complaints
Any questions or complaints presented in writing by a student concerning administration, training or the student’s progress will be answered clearly by the course director within two weeks. The request will be handled confidentially. The questions or complaints will be filed until the student’s qualification.
If students have any complaints about the course which they cannot resolve with the course director, they may contact the independent course Moderator, who will endeavour to address the request within three weeks.
If the complaint still cannot be resolved satisfactorily, the student will then be invited to make use of the STAT Students’ Conciliation and Disputes Procedure.
Staff Development and CPD
All of our regular teaching staff have a long-standing commitment to continuing professional development.
Teachers are encouraged and supported to participate actively, according to their interests, abilities and confidence, in the day to day running of the class; to give ‘turns’, to demonstrate ‘games’, to take hands-on groups and to present talks. The goal of all the classes, and of the Thursday Class in particular, is at least as much the development of established teachers as the training of new teachers as the two are inextricably linked in all practical teaching.
Regular MATTS teachers are invited to a teachers’ meeting once each term. As well as being an opportunity to consider the development of students and of the training course as a whole, these give teachers an opportunity to develop some of the leadership and organisational skills needed to move forward with their own projects in the future.
All our teachers are also be encouraged to visit other courses.
It is our intention that MATTS should continue to provide a centre for excellence and CPD for Greater Manchester and the entire north of England. As well as drawing on our own very considerable pool of talent and experience, occasional visits by notable teachers from outside the area provide further opportunities for learning.
Curriculum for STAT Approved Training Courses
You can download a draft curriculum for STAT approved training courses here. Although this document is still a "working draft", and not formally adopted by STAT, it does give a clear overview of what to expect on a STAT training course for teachers.
Please note this information is provided for general guidance only. All aspects of the course are under continuing review and the Director of the school reserves the right to make changes in response to students’ needs and to improve the quality of training. In addition, students who do not attend on all course days may miss some content and this may not always be repeated during the course of their training.