Ministerial training in the Church of England: A Round Up

A few years ago, I put together a series of guest blog posts on ministerial training in the Church of England. We are approaching that time of year when decisions need to be made about colleges, so here’s a round up of those posts which might well still be useful and certainly gives a selection of viewpoints from different colleges.

Intro – residential or regional training, full or part time, is one better than the other?
Regional Training at SEITE – a look at regional training from a student’s view point (now St. Augustine’s College)
Residential at Oak Hill – a look at residential training from a student’s view point.
Residential at Cuddesdon- a look at residential training from a student’s view point.
A Mixed view – from someone who has been at both

 

 

Top Tips for starting #VicarSchool

So it’s that time of year, new ordinands are heading off to college to begin theological & ministerial training. I remember heading off to my first evening at college with a huge about of trepidation and a large chip on my shoulder; then just a few months ago I cried at our last service together, knowing I would actually miss everyone. A huge journey in just a few years.

So for anyone about to head off to theological college, here’s some top tips to help you survive your first few weeks. Now I know some of you will be off to residential college, other regional or mixed mode, but take what works for you. And feel free to add suggestions in the comments below! thanks too to those who offered advice via Twitter :)

 

1) Be You

First off, be you. It was you that got you to this point, don’t try to be all ‘vicary’ now you are training, the church needs diversity! Smokers, swearers, ripped jeans and piercings? come on in! You are not supposed to be perfect. And on that, please please please please, and again, please, do not start with the whole ‘Vicar-Voice’ thing. You know exactly what I mean, the monotone drone of reciting liturgy or scripture without a shred of joy or meaning. What is that about? Shoot me if I ever do that. Just be you!

@gerrardus tweeted ‘people at Vicar school are posher than average. Don’t judge them’. Good advice, but works both ways, so posh people don’t judge the less posh ones! and on that…

2) Be open minded and loving

Vicar School should be a place where we can learn on many levels, but also learn to challenge ourselves and each other. We may have differing theological views, but healthy debate is good, when done with grace. In fact I encourage you, to encourage each other, to allow college to be a safe space to discuss tricky issues openly and honestly. This can be difficult, emotional and personal but it might be the only place where you can do this. Make the most of it.

Be kind to and patient with each other, it’s new for everyone, if you are regionally training/mixed mode then you may well have paid work to balance too, let alone kids/family/friends coming to terms with the newness of it all.

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Love this, as purchased in Paperchase :)

3) Secret drinking dens

Ok perhaps not exactly secret but I’d love to hear about any Vicar School dens, anyone?! But there does seem to be a strange quirk of celebrated drinks at theological colleges. At some it’s sherry, others the Malt Club, or perhaps the gin swiggers. No idea how this started but my suggestion is give them all a go, you will almost certainly need a tipple at some points. Me? I’m a Prosecco girl – not sure where that sits in the posh stakes? and court be known to sneak a bottle into my room occasionally. Kim notes on Twitter: ‘…the bar is your friend – even if you’re a teetotal introvert. It’s the place where theology takes place.’ True that.

 

4) Books Mortgage

Yes, so you are actually there to study, not just have deep and meaningful chats whilst supping whisky, there is some work involved. And that means reading. A lot of reading. So on the whole books thing, think very carefully about which ones to buy. If you pick all the ones you like off the reading list you will need to remortgage your house (that’s if you will ever afford a house on a Vicar’s stipend of course…). Best advice given to me was only buy the ones you will use again and again – commentaries for example or those in an area that you want to specialise in. That said, you will still need a trip to ikea for suitable accommodation to house them all when you leave college. Haven’t seen a clergy study yet without it’s own dedicated book wall.

There are lots of places to get free books too including google books – which may not have the whole book but might just have the chapter you need. Amazon often has the ‘look inside’ feature which can be used for the odd page too and Kindle often have books for free or at very low prices – keep your eyes open and share with each other.

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My first book wall, such a pleasing sight!

5) The dreaded ‘Formation’

This is a word you will get to hear a lot. To start with it seems huge, you will feel like you are expected to literally re-form like some Doctor Who style shape-shifter into the ‘Vicar Mould’ – see no.1 on this – being churned out the end like some production line (some people even call it Vicar Factory). By the end it will undoubtedly be a huge joke and anything slightly odd or tough will be deemed ‘formational’. Like the dodgy retreat houses, ancient loos and oh so interesting food you shall be forced to eat (grey soup and salmon bolognaise featured highly in my training) – it’s all formational darling…

It is though a good thing really, of course I can say that now I am out of Vicar School. As Kim says ‘It just means being open to being led & shaped by the Spirit & growing’.

6) Marks Smarks

You may go into this intending to get a 1st in every essay, or you may be paranoid about failing. Just remember you only have to pass. No one is going to care if you finish this course with 45% or 99%, you will be ordained and that’s that. Unless of course you plan to be the next Rowan Williams, in which case, you may need to spend a teensy bit more time in the library.

I, and several of my college friends had an ongoing challenge to see who could pass an essay by just one mark. I’m not sure any of us ever achieved it (we passed by more, not failed thankfully!) but there were times when we all thought this essay was going to be the one. So don’t try to be no.1 all the time, there are other things on your life too. Just get done what needs to be done as best you can, sometimes that will be better than others and that’s fine. Also do talk to tutors if you are struggling, they won’t eat you (well that’s debatable) and usually extensions can be offered. 

7) Just keep on bloody going…

There will probably be times when you want to jack it all in, can’t face the next lecture, or swear that if you ever see another copy of he Book of Common Prayer you will barf… (ok, that one might just be me). It’s all perfectly normal. You can do this, and don’t forget who called you into it all, he isn’t going to abandon you now. 

And anyway if you need to skip a lecture or a worship time because you are knackered, brain dead (or hungover, see no.3) then I really don’t think God will mind. Be kind to yourself. 

8) The Learning circle

Yes lectures, classes and tutorials will fill you with knowledge, but don’t forget your cohort who will all be different and have their own journeys, stories and skills to share. I think I learned as much from my fellow ordinands as I did from the course itself. Talk to each other, share ideas, debate and challenge, ask questions, engage in community life and as noted above, go to the bar! 

Also, don’t revert to school pupil mode, your tutors will recognise that you might actually have some knowledge of your own and in fact on my course several of us did some teaching to our cohort from our own area of expertise, which was really great.

9) Out of the house

Whether residential or regional, at some point you will be in accommodation not chosen by you – might be for a few years or just for a study weekend or two. Enjoy the er, interesting, decor; be refreshed by the often strange food (see no.5); and remember if you want a hot shower to be up by 6am – this rule seems to work anywhere and everywhere (except at Aylesford Priory where there is never ever any hot water).

One of my fave places we went to stay was an ex-NAAFI hotel in Kent. All yellow pine with polystyrene ceilings and plastic plants. But, we were mixing with ‘normal’ folk staying there – potential for great chats in the bar, it was warm, had plenty of plug sockets and wifi that worked. Look for the good stuff and you will find it! If you ever have to stay anywhere old – like a priory or monastery, take a hot water bottle – even in summer, and a 4 way adapter if you want to plug in anything.

10) Bluff

And the last word goes to Margaret who shared on Twitter:

Write somewhere (or tattoo): ‘everyone’s bluffing’. Remind yourself of this every day.

good advice!

 

If you have anything to add to the list, please do let me know and I’ll add it on! Thanks to those who shared via twitter too: Gerrarrdus, Kim, Chris, Margaret, Boris the Bold

Residential vs Regional: Training in the Church of England // A Mixed view!

This is the fifth post in a series on Ministerial Training in the Church Of England. To see the intro to it all click here. I have asked a selection of people to write on their own experiences of training, in different environments.Today we hear from Simon Archer who has spent time training at both regional and residential college.

Simon says of himself:

About to hit the big 4 oh! I am an ordinand (trainee vicar) living and studying on campus at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. I’m sharing this surreal experience with my wife, four children and 2 cats. I have a feeling the legend of Marmite the Cat with live long after the memory of Simon the Ordinand has faded and that is as it should be.

A Tale of Two Modes //

I had been exploring my calling to ministry for some time, dragging my feet which seems to be the norm. After meeting with with a Vocations Advisor and voicing some concerns over my ability to deal with the academic demands of training it was suggested I speak to SEITE, the South East Institute for Theological Education. I did and signed up for a year with an option to continue if I wished to on a part-time course as an associate student. I would do all the work, write the essays but as I wasn’t an Ordinand so would not attend the weekend or weekly retreats.
Travel forward in time a few years and I have been recommended for training and am just coming to the end of my first term of full-time residential training at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. So the question that might be asked is why did I choose this mode over part-time? What was the difference?
Well let me be clear, my choice was largely practical. My full-time employment was linked to retail and this meant working weekends and being busiest at exactly the times when retreats would be happening. Training part-time was simply not possible without quitting my job and joining another industry. I am happy to say although the option of part-time training with SEITE was discussed I was supported in a decision to train full-time.
So what about the differences? Both modes are challenging. The rigour of the academic lectures and the expectations of the essays and work are equal. The lecturers themselves are all incredibly gifted in both their fields of particular expertise and their abilities in imparting their knowledge. I do not think the quality of the academic training is therefore that different.
Formation is perhaps an area that is worth looking at. It’s an odd term that many speak of at colleges whilst rolling their eyes but in fairly simple term it’s about preparation for public ministry and the transition and changes you go through. At SEITE there were the retreats, church placements and the like but at Cuddesdon there is a great deal more attention paid to this. In
a single term I have been and am continuing a placement at a local hospital, I have a church placement on Sundays, I have spent two weeks as Chapel Assistant and then Duty Sacristan, a preaching themed study week. I am in a worship group whose responsibilities change weekly from preparing and leading worship corporately or individually to serving dinner to the college or running the bar. There are the Daily Offices and Eucharist as well as supplementary groups
offering Ignatian Spirituality or Rosary Prayer and meditation. There are guest theologian speakers both at the college and in Oxford who are leaders in contemporary thought. In January I will be spending a week in L’Arche community, something I am incredibly fortunate and privileged to do. This formational experience is something I could never have imagined or managed part-time.
Which is harder? I think this is an important question because I think actually the answer is part-time. With everything I do now I have immense support, academic staff on tap and my days, although full, are planned to be able to incorporate family time alongside all the work and experience. We have a part-time and mixed-mode students here and if I am absolutely honest I don’t know how they cope and I do know that many struggle. Many are holding down full-time work with all it’s demands, family responsibilities, travel and their training. And I know a few are pleading to move to full-time as soon as possible.
If it was my decision to make it would be that as many as possible are encouraged to train full-time but nobody should be prevented from responding to God’s calling so we certainly need the different modes. How we support the formation of those in other modes by offering the depth of experience seen in full-time training may be the area we need to focus on in the future.

 

Residential vs Regional: Ministerial Training in the Church of England: A Residential View Part 2

This is the fourth post in a series on Ministerial Training in the Church Of England. To see the intro to it all click here. I have asked a selection of people to write on their own experiences of training, in different environments.

Today Chris Routledge gives us his experience of training at a residential college, full time. Chris is the Assistant Curate in the parish of Northfleet & Rosherville, in Rochester Diocese, and is moving in January to be Vicar of the parishes of Bradwell and Porthill in Lichfield Diocese. He trained at Ripon College Cuddesdon from 2009-2011, having been a Church Army Evangelist for 9 years previous to beginning ordination training. Chris is married to Clare and they have a 4-year-old son, Nathan. Chris blogs at Cenobite’s Community



In 2009, my wife and I moved to Cuddesdon to begin two years of training to be ordained. We felt residential training would be right for a number of reasons, including the opportunity for my wife to make new friends who would stay with her for the rest of her life, and with whom she would be able to share the experience together of what it means to be a clergy spouse. The college we went to had an excellent “Partners Group,” which allowed spouses to take as much or little interest as they liked, with no pressure. This group was fundamental in enabling my wife both to settle into community life, and prepare her for life beyond college.

One of the most important reasons for me was that word which seems to be the ‘marmite’ of theological training, formation. For me, whilst I was definitely looking forward to the theological training, it was the formational side which I knew would be the most important for me – the becoming a deacon, and then a priest. The reason for that is because I had spent twelve years in Church Army – three years in training, and then nine years as an Evangelist – and so the transition from licensed lay minister to ordination was always going to be a big step. I went to college knowing that I needed to leave the Church Army part of my life behind – not deny it, because it will always be a part of my life and who I am – but to make that break in preparation for ordination. Moving to a new place was an important symbolic action in that transition.

Residential training made the formational process happen in ways that I cannot imagine could happen in a non-residential training environment. Students and staff at college lived a rhythm of life which included daily prayer together, eating together – basically, we did everything together (except sleeping, of course)! This rhythm of daily life was instrumental for me in the formational process, and has set me up well for the realities of ordained ministry. The daily offices, for example, are life-giving in both offering the day ahead to God, and commending the day past to God, in a way I had not appreciated would be so foundational before beginning residential training.In addition, living together in community brought the added experience of learning how to “disagree peaceably.” I confess to having one occasion where myself and a couple of other ordinands had a minor set-to; living in community meant that we needed to resolve what had happened if we were to be able to avoid minor tensions developing into a situation where we found it hard to be in the same room as one another. For myself, it placed me in the valuable position of needing to take the initiative to resolve what had happened, which, for someone who has a natural preference to avoid conflict, was easily one of the most important formational experiences of my training. Again, I don’t think it would have happened in quite the same way in non-residential training, where it could easily be a week or more before seeing again the person with whom one has fallen out.

During training, we were blessed to have our son born, and again, residential training provided natural support structures for us as first-time parents. It also meant that our son spent the first 9 months of his life being used to having lots of people around of all ages, which we believe has been of great benefit in his development.

Finally, residential training allowed me flexibility in choosing exactly the right placements I needed to “fill gaps” in my previous experience. So, for example, I spent the first year worshipping in an Anglo-Catholic church, which helped me to both experience and appreciate the nuances of worship in that tradition. I don’t know if there would have been such a breadth of options for placements if I had gone down the non-residential route.

For me personally, and for us as a family, residential training afforded opportunities which were what we needed in the training process. Whilst it may not be right for everyone, it certainly was for us, and I would have been desperately disappointed if it had not been an option.

Residential vs Regional: Ministerial Training in the Church of England: A Residential View



This is the third post in a series on Ministerial Training in the Church Of England. To see the intro to it all click here. I have asked a selection of people to write on their own experiences of training, in different environments.

Today Hugh Bourne gives us his experience of training at a residential college, full time. Hugh is a third year Ordinand at Oak Hill College. Hugh blogs at HughBo.com

I’m a few months into my third and final year of full-time, residential training preparing for ordained ministry in the Church of England – and I think it’s great! Before I explain why I think it’s so valuable let me answer three common objections to this mode of training:


1) Cost – yes it’s expensive, further education is expensive, wherever you go, as is the cost of living. But it’s not an issue as the costs are met by a combined effort of my sending diocese and the CofE Ministry Division. This might be an argument against residential training if you’re a Diocesan Treasurer, but not from an ordinand.

2) Relocating – this will present different challenges for different people depending on life stage and circumstances, for us it was not a big upheaval, but certainly a wrench to leave friends, family and jobs. But to not do this at the college stage is really delaying the inevitable, it’s rare to serve a curacy at a sending church and by offering ourselves for ordination we offer ourselves to the Church of England as a whole – moving will be an inevitable part of ministry!

3) Ivory Tower – no one really questions the fact that many medical students study for 3 years (pre-clinical) before they do much training with real life patients, we actually assume that our doctors our well qualified for the job. Academic study, when done well is incredibly relevant to real life and real ministry because the connections are made, my own college has recently launched an ‘integrated curriculum’  to help this to happen. There may also be a sense in which the training is disconnected from the parish context, the reality is that in my training I will have had a much broader (if not as intense) experience of parish ministry. It’s possible that an ordinand could complete their training having only really experienced one church (their whole life!) – that doesn’t prepare well for wider ministry in the CofE.

Students wrestling with theological essays…

Let me tell you about some of the things I get from 3 years of residential training:

: Over 1000 hours of lectures – (approx… x12 1hour lecture, x10 week term, x3 terms, x3 years).
: A BA degree which gives accreditation to my study, demonstrates a level of academic competence, is transferrable and can be built upon. While some mixed-mode courses offer the same level of accreditation there really is no comparison in terms of academic rigour (just compare teaching time).
: 24 hour access to a theological library of over 50,000 books.
: We get a free lunch! But seriously, catering means I can get on with study and some of the best conversations happen at the meal table with my fellow students.
: A breadth of church experience in two year long parish placements, one intensive two-week parish placement, a week long chaplaincy placement and week long parish mission.
: Daily chapel services which immerse me in a breadth of liturgy and ground me in a worshipping community.
: The time and expertise to commit to learning Greek and Hebrew (I only did a year of Greek, but many of my peers have done three years of both!).
: I train side by side with Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatics, a whole range and spectrum of people from different backgrounds. Some are training to be ministers others to be missionaries or youth workers. There are groups which meet to pray, practise preaching, help each other learn languages, revision groups, social groups, special interest groups – study and worship are in sync and both done in community.
: We live in community, my neighbours are my peers, my lecturers do their laundry in the same laundrette, children play together. My neighbours are my peers now, they’ll also be in the future providing a basis for long term support for the next X years in ministry. : When I leave college in June to begin a curacy I will have spent 4 years in full-time parish ministry (including 3 years of practical study here and here, followed by three years in full-time training to degree level here.

Paradoxically I feel incredibly well equipped while feeling rather inadequate for the ministry ahead. If I had the choice between residential and a form of mixed-mode training (I realise some have no choice realistically), to choose mixed-mode would in my mind be downplaying the importance of being academically equipped for ministry and would be a disservice to the people which I will serve. After all no one wants to be operated on by the doctor who hasn’t spent adequate time in the classroom!

Residential vs Regional: Ministerial Training in the Church of England: A Regional View

This is the second post in a series on Ministerial Training in the Church Of England. To see the intro to it all click here. I have asked a selection of people to write on their own experiences of training, in different environments.

Today Stacey Rand, gives us her experience of training part time at a regional college. Stacey is a
second year Ordinand at the South East Institute for Theological Education
(SEITE). She lives in Canterbury and works as a researcher in the field of
social care policy.  

The phone rang. It was the call I’d been waiting for, and
the answer was a yes…  I’d been
recommended for training! Once the feeling of shock passed (really, me?!), then
came the difficult choice of where to do my pre-ordination training. There were two options – either residential training (‘theological college’), or non-residential training (‘course’). After much thought and prayer, I felt that non-residential training would be a better fit for me.
Why? Well, first of all, I don’t really have a particular ‘tradition’ that I feel I belong to. I’ve worshipped in Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and ‘middle-of-the-road’ churches. Theological colleges tended to focus on a particular church tradition or style of worship. Instead, I was looking for somewhere where the diversity in the Church of England was reflected and celebrated.
Also, I’d only recently moved from Cambridge to Canterbury. My husband had been studying for his PhD and we had been very involved in Cambridge college life. It felt quite important at this stage to move on into the next phase of our life together as a married couple ‘in the real world’,
outside of the sheltered environment of a college (which feels at times a bit like a boarding school for adults!)
Asburnham Place, taken at a
recent residential weekend

So I chose to study non-residentially at SEITE – and I’ve
not regretted this decision for one moment. I really value the diversity of the students, in age, background and church tradition. There is a real sense of unity in the love of God, as well as our shared purpose for coming together. And I haven’t felt ‘de-skilled’ like I’d expected to. Instead, I’ve felt the freedom to bring prior learning to integrate into what is being
taught. It feels less like being broken and re-made in conformity with a particular image of a ‘vicar’, and more like a gentle re-shaping that allows space for individual diversity.

Importantly, the course emphasises that it isn’t about teaching us everything we’ll ever need to know, but to equip us with the tools for lifelong learning. The regular residential weekends have been an opportunity for an extended time of learning in community – both in the classroom and the bar!
Finally, there’s an emphasis on learning by experience. My home church and placements have offered space to explore important issues and to learn through real life situations. Placement supervisors have been generous in sharing both the joys and challenges of their ministry, for which I am very grateful.
Ashburnham Place

There have, however, been some compromises. I would have
really liked to have studied for a full degree, but that has not been possible. Instead, I am self-supporting through my work as a researcher to study part-time for an undergraduate diploma. My ‘day job’ is fulfilling, stimulating and interesting. My work colleagues have been really supportive. And there are aspects of my work that I would describe as part of my vocation. That said, it can still sometimes be challenging to balance the demands of employment and part-time study.

It might be said that the monastic spirituality in the community rhythm of residential training is essential to prepare the future leaders of the Church for the challenges ahead. However, this route may not be right for everyone. A strength of the current system is that there are a diversity
of routes to allow for the diversity of people who are training for lay or
ordained ministry.
Non-residential courses may also equally offer a ‘spiritually-grounded’ model of training – in the mendicant rather than monastic tradition. Unlike monastics (monks, nuns) who live in a monastery, mendicants (friars, sisters) go out and live among the people. The mendicant
tradition is a call to be outward-looking and working to seek God in all things and all situations – to have the ‘bible in one hand, the newspaper in the other’.
My experience so far of training has been both challenging, rewarding, confusing, exasperating, exhausting, joyful, humbling (especially to know the love and support of the people around me), and full of blessings – and it has really made me know what it is to trust God in all things. Hopefully, a good preparation for a lifetime of ministry?

Residential vs Regional: Training in the Church of England

Southwark Cathedral, where some of the
SEITE training takes place

So if you are a regular reader of this blog, it cannot have escaped your notice that I am training for Ordination in the CofE. Throughout the last few years as I have explored this and now in my training, I have regularly thought about the various types of training available. There are essentially 3 modes of training: residential (full time), regional (part or full time) and mixed mode. For a long time, residential training was the only option available and requires someone training to up sticks and move to their college for two years while they train, a bit like going off to uni. In many cases this means partners and families move too.  I’ve got to be honest I’m not entirely sure why the option for regional training was brought in, so please feel free to comment if you can point me to this info! However I am based at SEITE, whose website says the following about regional training there:

SEITE was founded in 1994 to serve the churches of the South East of England in training people for Christian ministry but its roots go back much further. In 1959, the Bishop of Southwark had a vision for training Christians to take ministry from the church out into society. In doing so, he broke with the normal pattern of ministerial training in which ministers are taken away from their everyday situations to study theology in a college community. Instead he set up the Southwark Ordination Course which trained people for ministry whilst they remained firmly rooted in their everyday lives and local communities. This way, people learn to make connections between Christian theology and the world in which they live. This vision remains central to SEITE.

In addition to being rooted in their own communities it does mean people have the option to study part time, and continue in their current paid jobs, but it also means those studying at regional colleges can stay in their homes and not have to uproot their lives and families at this stage (whether training full or part time).

So then why am I writing about this? Well, ever since this process began for me, I have come up against the view that regional training is the poorer second cousin to residential. Many Bishops encourage their Ordinands to go to residential colleges, and students have to have very good reasons for not taking this path. In addition, a widely held view across the church seems to be that those at regional colleges do not get as good an eduction as those training residentially and that they are therefore unprepared for ministry life. Here’s a prime example from a comment on a recent blog. (You can read the full comments and post at his blog, so I won’t repeat it all here but as an example….)

. does it make a difference that there is usually less study time, and always less contact time, on [regional] courses?

 . what is the impact of having less qualified staff (as they usually are, in terms of higher degrees) who are more often teaching outside their area of first expertise?

. what is the logic of training people who will be in full-time stipendiary ministry on a part-time non-stipendiary course?

. is it pastorally responsible to put such pressure on people early in their training?

On the last question, a friend of mine who was principal of both a course and a college admitted that on the course, people often either did not do the hours expected, or if they did, whilst holding down a full-time job, ended up with intolerable pressures on their marriages and family life.

This comes from someone with much experience in residential training, but as I responded to him in the comments of his own blog, it does not seem to be based on fact. For example, where is the evidence? which I did ask for; actually at my college (can’t speak for others) our tutors are teaching in their area of expertise and it’s something I wouldn’t even question as the standard of teaching has been so high; and that diversity amongst students as at SEITE actually is hugely beneficial as we learn from each other; lastly that there are pressures on all students, they just differ from college to college.

(I should just say that this post was not just about modes of training, it was written after the anouncement that a well known college, St Johns, Nottingham, will no longer be offering residential training, and he does make some very good points in the piece around the subject of training in general.)

So to be honest I am a bit fed up with this view that regional training is not as good as residential. The Church of England allows training for ministry in a number of ways, all of which are overseen by Ministry Division. Colleges are inspected and standards must be reached. I have tried to find out if there is any official research done on the differences between the forms of training but as yet I haven’t found any, so again if anyone can point me to some that would be great. However what this does mean is that people’s opinion is largely formed on hearsay, tradition and personal experience rather than any factual evidence. Now I’m not about to start down that route myself but I have asked a few people to write about their own experiences of training in different environments to give a personal and perhaps more balanced view of the different forms of training currently. So in the coming few days we will hear from people at various colleges in guest posts here on my blog. Please do join in the discussion in the comments, I would love to hear from others of their own experiences…