Qualified Coaches

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Phil Ehr
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Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:14 am

Qualified Coaches

Post by Phil Ehr » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:26 pm

I would be grateful for consultation on a letter from David Levens, ECF Manager of Coaches, found via http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=17053

Yours,
Phil

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:06 am

Phil Ehr wrote:I would be grateful for consultation on a letter from David Levens, ECF Manager of Coaches, found via http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=17053
It would seem logical to give some indication of their chess experience, strength and current playing activity which went beyond just identification of their GM/IM/WGM/WIM title. I'm not saying that "active club and Congress player, approaching FM standard" is a better coach then "played a handful of games many years ago with a grading under 100", but I would have thought it relevant for at least some purposes.

Krishna Shiatis
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:06 am

Hi Phil and David,

I have just read the letter and I do think it is a step in the right direction. There is just one more thing which I think is important for the manager of coaching to think about.

Whilst most coaches are excellent (I have come across many good ones) there are one or two bad apples. There does need to be a system in place to keep track of these guys and this does need to be done at a National Level.

I do think that there should be a central place where complaints against coaches can be kept. If a coach receives 'a number' of complaints (you can decide how many is acceptable), then this should result in an automatic investigation by the Manager of Coaching and the Junior Director; with consequences for that coach if the complaints are upheld.

This would then give a little more credibility to any lists being put forward by the ECF.

Steve Rooney
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Steve Rooney » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:15 am

This is an excellent initiative. I have long thought that there is a clear need to have a qualification route to ensure minimum standards of coaching and knowledge in order to get the ECF accreditation. David Levens offers a strong argument in favour of qualified coaches from his experience of other sports. But there is a lot of work to be done before it can happen.

To have a meaningful qualification you need an agreed system for training and assessing coaches. I understand the motivation behind the suggestion of offering a period of ‘grandfather rights’ for “those already actively coaching” but I think this could seriously undermine the value of having a qualified route to accreditation. Just because someone is doing it now, doesn’t mean they are qualified and I don’t think it's too much to ask that if you want to be on the list of accredited coaches, you need to attend a course. Of course, identifying people qualified to train the trainers will not be a simple task.

On the various categories suggested against grade targets, I feel there are too many; you could boil it down to three to make it more manageable.

A panel of respected coaches needs to be assembled to give input and help to devise coaching courses. I wouldn’t expect ECF to be delivering the training but it would need to approve any training courses offered by third parties and act as the awarding body.

Thomas Rendle
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Thomas Rendle » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:26 am

It's obviously a difficult issue. In an ideal world there should be some kind of 'qualification' but I'm not sure exactly how this is going to work - I'm open to hearing proposals. In my view the solution is simple - if a coach isn't doing a good job then don't use them! Generally it's a good idea to meet a coach and have an exploratory first session before taking them on full-time/regularly. There are a lot of good coaches out there and people should take the time to get references and do their own research.

Sabrina Chevannes
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Sabrina Chevannes » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:31 am

This is the minimal stuff that should have been included in the first place. I have been saying this for 5 years.

At least it's a step in the right direction and Dave has time to listen to all our inputs and suggestions to help produce a good system where we can trust our coaches.

Krishna is right though - there needs to be a system where if there are continuous complaints about a single person, some action must be taken.

Even if it just means getting them some more training or having a gentle word. We cannot just let someone continue a job when they are not good at it. It wouldn't happen in the "real world"

Steve Rooney
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Location: Church Stretton

Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Steve Rooney » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:14 am

Sabrina Chevannes wrote:This is the minimal stuff that should have been included in the first place. I have been saying this for 5 years.

At least it's a step in the right direction and Dave has time to listen to all our inputs and suggestions to help produce a good system where we can trust our coaches.

Krishna is right though - there needs to be a system where if there are continuous complaints about a single person, some action must be taken.

Even if it just means getting them some more training or having a gentle word. We cannot just let someone continue a job when they are not good at it. It wouldn't happen in the "real world"
You do need to have a proper system in place for this though, including procedures for investigating complaints and a satisfactory appeals mechanism. There will always be complaints made against teachers/coaches. They should always be taken seriously and listened to, but they are not always right.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:21 am

Thomas Rendle wrote:It's obviously a difficult issue. In an ideal world there should be some kind of 'qualification' but I'm not sure exactly how this is going to work
Sabrina was suggesting that you could become an ECF accredited coach with a bare minimum of chess knowledge. So much so, that you might actually be teaching a chess variant. Those who are accredited coaches would be able to say, whether or not it would be possible for a complete non-player to become an ECF coach and where the filtering would take place. It's also been suggested that if you wanted chess to be introduced widely in schools, then using the existing teachers to introduce it would be possible if they had the right training material. So there may be a role for coaches/trainers inexperienced at chess.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:30 pm

"Krishna is right though - there needs to be a system where if there are continuous complaints about a single person, some action must be taken. "

Absolutely right (assuming you find the complaints to be justified) - but ECF (and BCF before it) has never welcomed complaints, does not handle them well, and frequently takes a Bex-Bissell approach.

For example BCF appointed a national junior coach after many complaints had been made about him...
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

Philip Adams
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Philip Adams » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:35 pm

I'm in broad agreement with David Levens's thinking on this issue.

For some years, in the late 1970s or ealy 1980s I think, Bob Wade put on a series of courses for chess teachers. These were at a weekend. On the Saturday Bob would discuss theories and methods of developing chess ability and demonstrate examples of how to approach the teaching of different areas of chess knowledge and skill. At the end of Saturday, everyone was assigned a topic to prepare to "deliver" the following day in a short session in front of the whole group. At the end of the course, those attendees Bob considered to have delivered their session succesfully were awarded an official BCF coach badge. I was a fairly active county-level player at about 180 grade and I had already been running the chess club and teams at Chadderton Grammar School for several years, with fair success, but I learned a lot from attending this course - and I still have my badge somewhere.

David Levens's idea of different levels is logical but might prove difficult to implement.

I think there is a problem in that we do need to be working on two fronts:

QUANTITY - one priority is that we could use a lot more adults to run basic-level chess clubs in schools. They just need to have a CRB, be good with children, know the rules of chess and have access to information about some good ways to organize a club. Would a qualification system help or hinder at this level? I'm not sure.

QUALITY - identifying and developing talent. Perhaps it is above the basic level described above that a qualification system would be most useful.
Last edited by Philip Adams on Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:46 pm

Philip Adams wrote: Would a qualification system help or hinder at this level? I'm not sure.
I don't know either. You would not want them promulgating their own variant version of chess though, although how you would prevent it isn't clear. Recourse to an experienced chess mentor might help. I'm think of things mentioned by Sabrina in the other thread being lemons perpetuated by chess coaches
Sabrina's examples wrote: You have to tell them that the king does not go on its own colour and that there is no rule that say six checks and it's a draw and whoever turns their rooks upside down first when sitting at the board can start with three queens.

"the Sicilian is a bad opening because you should be playing e5", "The Dutch is bad cos it weakens the king", "All King n Pawn v King is a win, no matter what cos you can force the pawn to the end of the board

one coach has taught his school that they can put their hand out at any time and say : "Checkmate" and if they shake it they win. Even when the position is not check. They should all do it when they are losing so they don't lose. Or, offer a draw and then pretend it was checkmate.

John McKenna
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by John McKenna » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:55 pm

Sabrina >... We cannot just let someone continue a job when they are not good at it. It wouldn't happen in the "real world".<
While I'm in sympathy with the first sentence if 'not good' is replaced by 'bad', I must say that the second would only make sense to me if "real world" were replaced by "ideal world".
If you take a careful look around at our real world you will find it riddled, from top to bottom, with people who are patently not only not good at their jobs but downright bad, yet they continue!
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Sabrina Chevannes
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Sabrina Chevannes » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:48 pm

Usually, they are reprimanded for it in some way or other. Good managers will always be looking at performances, punctuality, efficiency, personality on a job and reviewing them. If they become sub-par, then there will be consequences.

However, yes, there are bad managers and therefore bad staff. I believe that in most companies though, staff are not allowed to just get on and do a bad job without any repercussions.

In the ECF, since it is all volunteers (apart from the office staff), it doesn't matter if someone does a bad job continuously, because they cannot be sacked. That is the problem with a completely volunteer system.

Steve Rooney
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Location: Church Stretton

Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by Steve Rooney » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:32 pm

Sabrina Chevannes wrote:Usually, they are reprimanded for it in some way or other. Good managers will always be looking at performances, punctuality, efficiency, personality on a job and reviewing them. If they become sub-par, then there will be consequences.

However, yes, there are bad managers and therefore bad staff. I believe that in most companies though, staff are not allowed to just get on and do a bad job without any repercussions.

In the ECF, since it is all volunteers (apart from the office staff), it doesn't matter if someone does a bad job continuously, because they cannot be sacked. That is the problem with a completely volunteer system.
This seems to have gone off on a bit of a tangent. You can't really equate chess coaches with paid or volunteer staff, since most may be neither. They may be volunteers but they are not coaching on the ECF's behalf, they are just getting on with it themselves locally.

Whilst a valid point has been made about having a system to handle complaints, that is not really the main thrust of David Leven's paper which focuses on qualifications. First you need agreed standards in order to be able to judge whether people meet them, and continue to meet them in the light of any subsequent complaints. As Thomas R has pointed out, this is easier said than done, and the first test is whether there is sufficient will to make it happen.

John McKenna
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Re: Qualified Coaches

Post by John McKenna » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:03 pm

Sabrina, I agree with what you wrote above up to a point but you have to go higher to see the full picture and that is beyond the scope of this medium.
Can only suggest that you watch the 1973 film O Lucky Man and even if you have seen it do so again a couple of times.
You might even want to make a sequel O Lucky Woman based on your experiences.
Get the feeling you're a great optimist beset by a greater negativity - nil desperandum - you can always become an optimistic pessimist at worst - like Em. Lasker!
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

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