The idea of #bellringing clusters isn’t anything new, but the language is. Towers have always grouped together and shared ringers when needed, and at our tower we have been fortunate to have been supported by, and supported other towers. The formal idea of clusters or hubs or groups or whatever you want to call them has become more relevant in recent years. This may be because there are fewer ringers to go around, but also the Central Council has helped fund Ringing Centres and in more recent years ART, the Association of Ringing Teachers has introduced a similar concept of Hubs.
The idea is that a group of towers club together to share their resources both in terms or tower, teachers, helpers and learners. A learner will get a much richer experience if they start early enough going to different towers and having different teachers helping them. So long as those teachers are all following the same plan.
It’s less daunting for learners to go elsewhere if there is someone there they already know. They might be concerned about their own lack of ability or that they might be holding others back.
The advantages of having a cluster include:
- More teachers, but who are all following the same plan or methods;
- Different bells ring differently and helps with handling techniques;
- Being flexible around when ringing sessions are run, could be during the week day, evenings or weekends, which allows learners and teachers to be flexible and fit in with family and other commitments;
- More sociable, getting people together;
- More than one pair of eyes seeing where a learner might need to make adjustments;
- Helps reduce teacher burn out by spreading the load and the organisation.
Its important to remember to do something every now and then for the helpers and teachers to keep them interested, and to show learners how it should be done.
Other things to develop might include:
- Moving from practices to service ringing, weddings etc;
- Learning to ring handbells;
- Entering striking competitions;
- Great social opportunities;
- Getting young ringers involved in teaching;
- Planning more advanced sessions.
What makes it work?
- Ringers and teachers with a common vision;
- Being flexible;
- Leaders who can work together
Being part of a cluster does not negate the value of the district or association as this provides other opportunities and support.
How can we take advantage?