Are you a RYA instructor teaching the cruising scheme? Then you should think to attend the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Instructor Conference. But if you’re not, here is what it is like to attend this event that the RYA put on to keep their instructors updated.
The annual gathering has just been and gone, but having been to a few, this was the best one yet.
It comprises of two days of instructor updates, CPD (continual professional development) sessions, and various RYA talks about what they are up to, important statistics about who is doing what course throughout the scheme, and to support instructors and the growth of the sport. All set in a low-key conference style setting at the De Vere Wokefield Estate in Reading, a very well-equipped resort with accommodation if you need it too.
When you book online to attend the weekend, you get a chance to see what the CPD sessions are and then to reserve your seat. Two sessions per day lasting about an hour long each. They are always very informative and great for keeping your personal knowledge of the subject up to speed. Spaces are limited though, and there are always people that miss out on CPD sessions they want to go to. I always book early (as soon as the RYA announce tickets) to get around this issue.
Day one is always the most full on, with talks and various specific CPD sessions running from 9.30am to 5.30pm. And, if you’re one of those special folks that hold an examiner or trainer ticket in the scheme, you probably won’t be finished until 7.30pm. After all that, there is the Gala dinner. The dinner cost’s extra and to be honest I’ve never attended it as I always commute both days. But it’s there and great for hanging out with fellow instructors sharing stories over half a shandy or two.
The second day is not as long as the first, with just a question and answer session in the morning for about half an hour. Then it’s into your chosen CPD sessions again, it all finishes at around 1.30pm. Great for time to get back home and ready for the course / work you have on the Monday morning I assume.
There are many things I like about attending the conference. There are plenty of breaks in between sessions, all around 30 minutes. I’ve attended many conferences in the past and sitting for more than about an hour is never good. It’s also a great chance to share stories and meet likeminded instructors. But for me personally, the CPD sessions are the most valuable. Having experts in their field talk about specific subjects is extremely valuable. This year I attended CPD sessions on Mental Health and keeping your yacht in Code. Both very important subjects to talk about and I took a lot from. There are also some freebies that I always like picking up!
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. If you’re an instructor eligible to attend, the RYA will send you info about how to sign up. But do it early!