Saturday, 30 December 2017


After successfully completing my BSAC First Class Diver (part 1, part 2, and part 3) I immediately registered for my National Instructor as there was only 3 weeks until the first preparation event.

So what is a National Instructor?  From the website:

National Instructor
The National Instructor grade requires students to pass a 4 day practical Examination typically conducted at the end of July each year in the UK.
Instructors resident outside the UK are invited to discuss the opportunities with the National Instructor Chief Examiner 
Candidates for the Exam must be:

  • Current BSAC members
  • BSAC First Class Diver
  • BSAC Advanced Instructor
  • BSAC Instructor Trainer
  • Hold a 'current' Pass or Merit grade in the FCD Theory Exam gained within 3 years* prior to the NI practical exam 
        *please Note a Borderline grade for the FCD Theory paper is not valid for NIE

National Instructor Development 
National Instructors are really important to the organisation- they are the ones who bring forward new courses and adapt to technical developments in the sport. They have to ensure the safety and the quality of all of the training offered though our extensive instructor base. 
In order to even enter for this examination you have to be an Advanced Instructor and First Class Diver and an Instructor Trainer with BSAC- that is you must have attended and instructor trainer development course (ITDC) and have been formally accepted onto the BSAC Instructor Trainer Circuit. The evidence for this is you are on the list of the instructors who can staff the Instructor Foundation Course, Open Water Instructor course, act as Theory Instructor examiners and Practical Instructor examiners. This is because the examination is closely related to the role that National Instructors do for the BSAC on Instructor trainer events. Experience has shown that candidates for the exam who are not firmly established on “The Circuit" are now at such a serious disadvantage that they are strongly recommended to achieve this before attending preparation events and progressing to the exam. In short, if are not already an Instructor Trainer then this should be your next step after achieving AI and FCD in your own development as an instructor.

The exam will be detailed later on in this blog, however for reference, in particular during the preparation events, the 23 assessment areas are as follows:

Brief Description
Planning and Organisation of boat dives
During the two planning sessions for boat diving, the candidate will be assessed on his/her ability to plan, organise and prepare for safe, effective boat diving
Management of Boat Diving Operations
As part of the days spent aboard the boats, the candidate will be assessed in the areas of dive management/implementation of the diving plan. The candidate is expected to manage actual diving (i.e. be in sole charge of diving) at some point and will be a team member throughout the day
Adventurous Boat Dive
As part of the day spent aboard the skippered boat, the candidate is expected to lead an adventurous/challenging dive. The dive site given will be of an ‘unknown’ or ‘unexplored’ nature to the buddy pair. The candidate is expected to dive accordingly, gather information on the site and report back, once on board the skippered boat. The candidate is also expected to extend/improve the skills of the examiner by relevant teaching
Project Boat Dive
As part of the day aboard the skippered boat, the candidate team will be given a Project to complete, either at the site of the adventurous dive or at a new site, by the examiners. The purpose of the Project will be to collect reliable, reproducible data for subsequent collation, analysis and presentation. The candidate then leads a dive as a part of the team. The objectives of the dive are to teach the examiner how to plan and execute a successful project at First Class Diver level

The subject-matter of the project will be given to the candidates in advance of the skippered boat day, so that the project can be planned in advance. If the project requires specialist knowledge or equipment, advance notice may be given to the candidates to allow them to come to the exam fully prepared

If the team as a whole does not achieve the task to an appropriate standard, then the individual candidates’ marks will be adjusted to reflect this
Project Evaluation and Reporting
The candidate is given the opportunity to feed back their evaluation and report of the skippered boat project dive. This should be done as a team with each candidate presenting for 5 minutes on a critical area of the project. Candidates will be given 1 hour to prepare for this reporting session or, if the timetable allows, may be expected to find time during the evenings for preparation
Boat Dive with an Instructional Purpose
The candidate is briefed to lead a dive from a boat with an instructor wishing to develop their instructional skills, as if acting as an Instructor Trainer on an Advanced Instructor Course (AIC). The dive will incorporate some practical instruction in relevant skills. Examples of the skills that will be set by the NI Chief Examiner could include; Use of a SMB, Use of a DSMB, Use of bottom line, Wreck orientation, Drift diving, Marine life identification, Pilotage
Instructional feedback – 5 minute lesson
The purpose of this section of the exam is to assess the candidate’s ability to observe the performance of an instructor, identify points for improvement and correct these. This may be achieved by intervention during the lesson, re-demonstration of the teaching exercise highlighting the instructional points and/or giving constructive feedback, face to face, shortly after a dive

During the ‘Boat Dive with an Instructional Purpose’ or the ‘Task Related Coaching Boat Dive’ the examiner will give a 5-minute mini-lesson. The examiner will perform the lesson according to a standard that has been agreed previously with the Chief Examiner

Shortly prior to the dive, the examiner will brief the candidate, covering the following points:
a) Explain the respective roles being taken by the examiner and the candidate
b) The examiner will not necessarily do a ‘perfect’ lesson. The candidate should not be shy about noting aspects which could be improved
c) The demonstration will not include any deliberately dangerous practices. Any such aspects which arise are therefore real and should be treated as such
d) The examiner and candidate will agree in advance at what point in the dive the mini-lesson will take place, along with signals/procedure for handing control over to and back from the examiner
e) A brief for the 5-minute lesson itself. A similar lesson debrief will be given by the examiner at the end of the dive

After the post-dive debrief, the NI candidate will be given a few minutes to collect their thoughts, to decide on the performance and to prepare a debrief. At the same time, the examiner will make notes on their own performance. The NI candidate will then give a face to face debrief to the examiner for the mini-lesson. Note that in-water teaching will gain extra marks
Task-related coaching boat dive
For this exercise, the candidate will act in the role of an Instructor Trainer on an Advanced Instructor Course, to demonstrate, and the students to practice, teaching more advanced underwater skills. Working in groups, the aim is to undertake and complete an underwater project using best diving and teaching practice

The candidates will be working in groups, with examiners and other candidates assuming the role of AIC students for this session. Each candidate would normally be expected to teach one examiner and another candidate

The candidates will be assessed on the three phases of the exercise, during which excellent instructional techniques should be demonstrated. The three phases are planning, dry-run and inwater teaching

The dive will be done in shallow water (circa 10m). All members of a group will be in the water together – likely duration about 1 hour. Note that the 5 Minute Instructional Lesson may be built into this dive
Surface Teaching
Whilst working from boats during the examination, candidates will be assessed on their ability to teach, at a high level, diving-related skills and subjects on the surface. Teaching techniques at various
levels are expected to be used. Examiners are encouraged to integrate Diving Knowledge questions and associated teaching opportunities with Surface Teaching
Coaching and Mentoring
Throughout the examination candidates will be assessed on their ability to extend students’ higher level practical diving and/or instructional skills and experience, by means of coaching and mentoring. This means developing ability by identifying the areas which the student needs to develop, agreeing a Personal Development Plan (PDP) including objectives and achievement targets (which is then monitored and changed as required), providing the environment for a student to learn, often using his/her own resources, and stimulating the student to achieve the objectives

Candidates will be given scenarios on the first night of the examination, allowing the candidates to develop a plan that can then be implemented over the 4 days of the exam. The scenario will lead the candidate into how they should approach their coaching/mentoring. E.g. I am preparing for AI, or I am preparing for First Class Diver etc. It is recommended that examiners are paired with candidates so that they can receive suitable coaching throughout the 4 days of the examination
Instructor Trainer Pool Lesson
The brief given to the candidate is to give a 30 minute pool lesson (from the beginning of the Instructor Trainer brief, to the end of the Instructor Trainer debrief) on a skill which will be allocated by the examiners. The purpose of the lesson is to introduce instructional technique to prospective diving instructors for the first time, as if on an Instructor Foundation Course (IFC). Guidance on the aims,
objectives and approach to this session are available in the IFC instructor notes, which can be obtained from BSAC HQ
Instructor Trainer Group Work (Pool Lesson)
The brief given to the candidate is to guide a group of prospective instructors in the planning, preparation and presentation of a 20 minute pool lesson and to manage the feedback process. A specific skill will be given by the examiners. The purpose of this scenario is to highlight good planning, teaching and feedback techniques to new instructors, as if on an IFC, when the tutorial session is followed by the practical lesson and a final debrief session. The ratio will be 2 NI examiners to 2 candidates. The candidate guides the 2 examiners and the second candidate through a planning session to prepare the pool lesson. The second candidate gives the lesson in the pool. The lesson is taught to the 2 NI examiners and the candidate observes and intervenes in the practical session, as if on the IFC as an instructor trainer. The debrief after the lesson is led by the candidate. Both candidates will perform both instructor trainer and instructor roles during the overall session. Planning sheets and extracts from the Instructor Handbook will be provided by the examiners. Candidates will be allowed to bring and use their own annotated copies of the Instructor Handbook Extracts if they wish
Open Water Instructor Trainer Lesson
The candidate is briefed to present an instructor trainer demonstration lesson from the shore. The purpose of the lesson is to teach the principles of teaching diving in the open water, as if teaching on an Open Water Instructor Course. The demonstration lesson will not take more than 45 mins from the end of Instructor Trainer Brief to the start of Instructor Trainer debrief. Total session not to take more than 50 minutes with Instructor Trainer elements. Examples of appropriate skills would include; CBL, AS, Rescue breaths & towing, Rescue breaths & landing the casualty, Simple compass navigation
Open Water Practical Lesson Assessment
The brief given to the candidate is to watch a “live” open water shore lesson of 45 minutes, and to assess the performance of the instructor as if on a Practical Instructor Exam (PIE). The “live” open water lesson will be an underwater lesson delivered by a NI examiner and will be performed to a standard previously agreed by the NI examiners. The correct mark could be anything from a Fail through to a Merit. The candidate will give a mark for the lesson and provide a written comment for the instructor under assessment. PIE assessment sheets will be provided by the examiners. The lesson will be observed by a second NI examiner, who will ‘mark’ the candidate’s performance as an ‘examiner’, including the mark and comment
Theory Lesson Video Assessment
The brief given to the candidate is to watch a video recording of a classroom lesson, and then to assess the performance of the instructor as if on a Theory Instructor Exam (TIE). The candidate will be asked to give a mark for the lesson, provide a written comment and to write down an appropriate question for the instructor under assessment. The candidate should also be briefed that they should treat the video presentation as if someone was standing in front of them delivering a classroom presentation. TIE marking sheets will be provided by the examiners. The candidates will be permitted to use a laptop & prepare an electronic report if they prefer
Rescue Instructor Workshop
There are two options to this section, depending on whether or not ‘real’ students are available to benefit from rescue instruction. Scenario A should be used in the event that no real students are available. Scenario B should be used if there is an opportunity to teach real students. All candidates are expected to be teaching throughout the session

Scenario A
The candidate will work as a part of a team to deliver instruction, using a ‘workshop’ format, on how to teach rescue skills effectively, as if conducting a workshop for potential instructors on rescue Skill Development Courses. It is important that, in addition to providing guidance to ‘students’ on how to teach the skills effectively, the candidate provides a demonstration of the skills in question, so that their competence in rescue skills can be assessed. Candidates will be given the subject-matter of the workshop and the skills to be demonstrated at least 30 minutes before the session. This session will normally be run by means of a series of ‘stations’ representing different skills, manned by examiners, round which the candidates will rotate at 10 minute intervals, as directed by the examiners

Scenario B
The candidate will work as a part of a team to deliver instruction, to real ‘students’ who may not necessarily be divers themselves, but who have an interest in techniques used to rescue divers. It is important that the candidate provides a demonstration of the skills in question, so that their competence in rescue skills can be assessed. Candidates will be given the subject-matter of the
workshop and the skills to be demonstrated at least 30 minutes before the session. This session will normally be run by means of a series of ‘stations’ representing different skills, manned by examiners, round which the candidates will rotate at 10 minute intervals, as directed by the examiners
Dry Practical Teaching Lesson
The practical teaching session will be based around a 20-minute dry practical lesson, with a few minutes’ notice. The subject will be derived from a core skill development course: e.g. Practical Rescue Management, Oxygen Administration, First Aid for Divers, Lifesaver Award, Advanced Lifesaver Award, Boat Handling, Chartwork

Any aspect covered in the BSAC Diver Training Programme
Theory Presentation
The brief given to the candidate is to give a 20-minute theory lesson, on a diving-related subject given to the candidate shortly after the closing date for applications for the Examination. The brief will include the subject area and the expected level of the audience. The candidate is expected to research the theory topic and present a lesson which shows a novel approach, rather than simply using existing material. Each candidate is also expected to support their presentation with a set of instructor notes that would allow another instructor to deliver their presentation
Five Minute Meeting
A scenario will be given to the candidate, at the beginning of this session, that they are at a meeting of a specific group of divers/people with a diving interest (to be agreed by the NI Chief Examiner), and one of the examiners asks a question about a current diving topic. The candidate then talks for 5 minutes on the given topic to provide an ad hoc explanation
Branch Interview
The brief given to the candidate is that he or she is just about to conduct a NI branch visit. Typically, the scenario would revolve around an overseas branch, with the candidate meeting a number of committee members who pose a series of questions based upon current areas of interest, such as developing technical issues, political problems, complaints about BSAC administration etc
Personal Diving Skills
As a National Instructor the BSAC expects candidates to present themselves for examination with a high level of personal diving skills. This element is examined throughout the course of the 4 days
Diving Knowledge
Throughout the exam, the candidates will be quizzed on key areas of theoretical and practical knowledge

The primary objective is to structure the questions to provide opportunities to teach the subject rather than purely quiz the student to the point of paralysis or a quivering wreck. Examiners should prepare their questions and phrase them in a way that encourages a teaching opportunity to be taken. Where possible, links to supporting Coaching and Mentoring objectives should also be used to direct the focus of questions. Diving Knowledge can also be assessed as part of the overall teaching of
components, for example, complement section 1 (planning and Organisation of boat dives), section 2 (Management of Boat Diving Operations), section 9 (Surface Teaching), etc.

The subject areas include; Weather/seamanship/knots & ropework/chartwork & navigation, Physics/mixed gases/technical diving/equipment/rebreathers, Physiology/first aid/diving medicine/decompression, Marine Identification
The candidate’s attitude throughout the four days of the exam is assessed by all the examiners. The standard required is what might be expected of a National Instructor who is likely to be placed in difficult situations and still be an ambassador for the BSAC, rather than an embarrassment

Registration process
The process is fairly simple and straight forward.  Register here? 

Note:  This blog was written continuously throughout the preparation process and not as one chunk at the end so I've hopefully managed to capture more detail that may be useful to future candidates.

Preparation events
Other than the Intro event (see below), the prep events are generally not posted on the BSAC website, rather, they’re organised by the Chief Examiner (at time of writing Maggie Driscol).  The softboat (RHIB) and hardboat preps have limited places and some of those will be taken by staff so those who have committed to doing the exam in that year get priority.  The prep events are designed to ‘hone’ your skills, and are not replace gaining experience as individuals work on the ITS as Instructor Trainers. 

Travel expenses to and from the locations within the UK are covered but not accommodation and gas costs.  The venue, hardboat and staff costs are covered by BSAC.

This event introduces all of the elements in the current examination. It provides the opportunity to meet the candidate group and the national instructor team who support the preparation events and act as examiners on the National exam itself. It is the first opportunity to work with other potential National Instructors who are preparing for the exam within the next two or three years.

Date: 29/30 October 2016
Stoney Cove. 
Format: Classroom presentations, discussions and workshops.
Cost: No course fee, travelling expenses met.

For those that don’t know, Stoney can get exceptionally busy at weekends.  So much so, people start queueing at 0500 for a 0700 open.  Not me!!!  Instead I opted to pay £10 and reserve a place. 

The prep event was as it says in the format; a mixture of classroom presentations, discussions and workshops covering elements:
10. In this session we looked at our PDP (personal development plan) where we identified strengths and weakness, how to improve, and possibly identify a mentor that could assist us in our planning.  This also ties in to the exam where we will have to mentor and develop a ‘student’.
11. In this session we delivered a 20 minute instructor trainer demonstration lesson, including the top and tail, as if we would on the IFC.  Using per to peer feedback and observations from the observing National Instructor, we identified areas for improvement.
12. After leading a lesson planning session (as per IT’ing an IFC or OWIC), we were back in the pool.  We each delivered one of the 20 minute lessons we had prepared with one of us acting as an IT, using intervention as required to improve the others lessons (again similar to an IFC). 
13. As per element 11, however this lesson was 45 minutes long and in the Open Water as per an OWIC.  These pool and Open Water events were extremely useful to ‘pinch’ ideas of other ITs, as usually you’re in the water conducting this with potential instructors.
15. In this session we watched a DVD of a 10 minute theory presentation (TIE) and then had to write a student report based on the essential criteria (PAVE).  This report was then given to the Chief Examiner OWI (at time of writing David George) for review.  We all guessed the initial correct answer (pass) and awaited the results of our reports.

Overall, the weekend was extremely useful.  Although Maggie (National Instructor Chief Examiner) wasn’t there, I did get to meet some of the new NI candidates (5 of us in total although one has now dropped out as he needs (in his words & his mentors) more experience on the ITS circuit.  I would however have liked to have seen more emphasis placed on mid-water skills, especially at this level, rather than back to the knees.

Post prep, I got to working on my list of jobs.  All my skills slates were refined and laminated, my PDP was amended and lessons were prepared.  I was also given my mentor; Jim Watson from HQ. 

This report so far details the exam requirements, and the work carried out on the prep events.  It’s almost impossible to communicate how much other prep work goes on in the background; there’s the lesson prep as previously mentioned, conference calls between myself and my mentor which equals more jobs, there’s the ITS events.  The list is endless.  There is (or at least so far for me) hours of work.

Aside from the prep, the biggest frustration so far is the communications.  Numerous emails have been sent from various candidates requesting information but due to a number of reasons, it can be a while before we get a reply which can be frustrating.  However, we’re all volunteers and do this for the love of the sport so let’s not be too harsh. Although, once replied, the feedback was excellent. 

The equipment I took for this event was:
· Basic SCUBA (pool and open water).
· Datum.
· Clip weights.
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.

Prep event - Pool Preparation
This event introduces the pool elements of the assessment. During the course you will present an Instructor Foundation Course practical demonstration and will be teaching and coaching as if you were tutoring on and IFC. You will receive feedback and coaching to improve your instructor trainer performance. You will practice coaching others at this level.

Date: 14/15 January 2017, delayed to 28/29 January 2017, finally 18/19 February 2017
Location: Stoney Cove.  
Format: Some taught classroom presentations, but predominantly classroom and pool workshops led by yourselves and focusing on improving existing Instructor trainer skills.
Cost: No course fee, travelling expenses met.

Arriving for around 0800 on Saturday, I opted to not reserve a space this weekend as it was all to be pool and theory work.

15.  Similar to the previous prep event, we discussed the exam format, as well as our own report writing style.  This then followed by a 10 minute DVD.  We then had about 20 minutes or so to start writing before we got back together to discuss our findings.  And like before, we had to submit our report to an NI for feedback, but unlike the previous event (or the exam) it was to be done by the end of the week.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing this section 2 weeks after the event I’ve still not submitted mine.  I honestly haven’t had the time.

12.  Similar to last time, this was designed to simulate an IFC planning session.  I felt at odds as I was trying to plan the way they (the NIs) wanted me to, and not the way I do so it didn’t go too smoothly.  One thing I did learn though, is to nominate individuals rather than asking, as this speeds up the process.  As we moved into the pool, I did find it hard to deliver someone else’s planned lesson as we do have our own style, and even muscle memory to the way we would deliver a similar lesson.  But unfortunately, that is the reality of the exam, and what the IFC candidates do after our planning sessions.  This was definitely a good combined session as I now need to go away and tweek a few of my slates, and I also found out that I’d been teaching AS (first) incorrectly all this time (and after some instructional development back in branch all of the instructors I know had).  However, I did get some frustrations during this session following some discussions.  Phrases such as “we don’t dive that way” I personally thought was inappropriate.  We don’t dive on our f@%?!$g knees either but we seem to be teaching on them.  Also, “In reality….” doesn’t help.  Are we teaching reality or the DTP?  And if so, should the DTP be changed to accurately reflect?  This is an interesting topic which could warrant its own discussion across most agencies at some point.

The following day I arrived somewhat disillusioned.  So much so one of the other candidates and even the Chief Examiner noticed it and asked what was wrong.  I questioned why I wanted to be there as at times, it appeared that we were playing individuals off each other which I do not like.

12.  The pool work continued and I gave Rescue Breaths as my model pool lesson.  The initial feedback was it would have been a pass, so when we got a free period at the end I tried to do my modified AS lesson.  It didn’t go to plan, but then I wasn’t using a slate.  Something I’ve definitely learnt is to not be too hard on myself (edit: this did not happen during the exam!!!).

18.  Having not delivered the 10 minute demo lesson on an IFC before as it normally goes to an NI, or experienced IT, I opted to deliver basic equipment as I already had a planned lesson from an IFC.  The lesson went well, and what I believe would have been a pass.  Although next time, I’ll make sure I’m sat on the right and the student(s) on the left as it meant that I wouldn’t have had to reach across to change slides.

19.  For the 5 minute meeting, I was the first to go and was sat in with 3 NIs; 1 writing and 2 listening.  I was given a scenario of a family visiting a branch at a pool night and wishing to cross over/join.  All were PADI.  Mum was an experienced OC & CCR instructor, son was an OWSI, and daughter was a RD.  I was given 30 seconds to think and then talk for 5 minutes.  As it happened, I had to be cut off so at least talking for 5 minutes wasn’t an issue.  The answers must be knowledgeable and up to date, must be supportive of BSAC, and must have a good knowledge of the BSAC system.  I think I did ok. 

20.  The branch interview represents a 20 minute overseas interview with the TO/DO of a branch where you get asked a number of questions.  Ones I got were about IPO, trying to qualify ADs, FCD exams, how to motivate branch members, O2 admin and I’m sure a few more I forgot.  Again, I did ok, and the feedback was generally positive.

17.  The dry practical was a nightmare.  It’s based on having to replace an instructor mid-way through a lesson, with out any prior knowledge of what that lesson is.  The lesson we all got was slings from the First Aid for Divers.  After 2 minutes, I sat this one out.  Lots of revision from a large number of SDCs required.  I understand why this is in the exam, but the reality I’m sure, is if you had to step into a lesson at last minute, you would at least know what SDC was being taught that weekend.

Overall it was a good weekend.  I was given a confidence boost in some areas and learnt what areas I need to look at.  On both prep events so far I’ve not stayed overnight due to the close proximity to home.  Did I miss out by not being there in the evenings?  Time will tell….

I am still disillusioned to be honest, but I will still probably go ahead with the exam.  You can’t change anything from the outside after all.  But one area I can’t but help question is the role model behaviour that is often talked about on all the events, and throughout the ITS.  BSAC have a stigma attached to the instructors; fat, beard, sandals, Buddy Commando, the list goes on.  Possibly only some if it is deserved.  On the TIE video there were comments about inappropriate pictures used within a presentation and role model behaviour.  I get it.  But I also find it very hypocritical.  Role model behaviour goes much further than the t-shirt we wear, the language we use, or the visual aids in our lessons.  Role model behaviour I believe is the whole persona of an instructor.  There are fat instructors and there are fat instructor trainers, across a large number of agencies. Not just BSAC.  Some cannot get in a wetsuit unaided, some cannot carry their kit, and some cannot walk up the stairs without being out of breath.  Is that role model behaviour?  I’m not saying everyone should be a crossfitter with a six pack, but I do believe all agencies still has some work to do to define what role model behaviour actually is.

The equipment I took for this event was:
· Basic SCUBA (pool).
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.
· Equipment to facilitate my 10 minute lesson.

This event give the opportunity to improve your skills as instructor trainers on sheltered open water events and to practice coaching others at this level. As well as reviewing the open elements of the assessment the course you will present a demonstration lesson as if on the OWIC. You will receive coaching and feedback from other candidates and you will provide it in turn.

Date: 8/9 April 2017
Eccleston Delph. 
Format: Classroom workshops. Open water workshops.
Cost: No course fee, travelling expenses met.

I arrived early Saturday morning, in fact too early as the centre was closed.  However once opened I became a member and headed down to the beach area along with the other candidates and examiners for the day’s activities. 

13. For this element we were split into 3 groups, and I was paired with a candidate who was attempting the exam for a second time, and our examiner was Sophie Heptonstall, BSAC’s National Diving Officer.  Ray went first delivering line laying, whilst I did AS (2nd lesson).  As like last time, these were Instructor Trainer Demo Lessons.  I was really happy with how mine went.

14.  The groups changed and I was with 2 more candidates, one of which is doing the exam in 2018, and Sophie and Steve Capes were our examiners.  I opted to go first as I had the most ITS experience observing Steve giving a simulated PIE lesson.  Immediately after I had to give an initial result, and following the completion of all of the lessons, we had just over an hour to pack up and get back to the hotel and write up the report.  By the time I got to the hotel I was the last to start on the report, but surprisingly I was the first to finish.  The boss gave it a quick once over, and other than a few re-wordings due to personal preference, the report was fine as was the grade. 

16.  Once everyone was done we conducted our planning session for the workshop before heading out for a meal with the examiners.

The following day we setup at the far side of the lake and setup for our 3-legged circuit.  The scenario was Advanced Divers prepping for their FCD exam, with 3 teaching stations, and at least 2 of them had to be in-water.  Given that everyone had to teach, we had a 5-place rotation; instructor, instructor, casualty, instructor, casualty, with the examiners playing the students.  I gave the initial brief to everyone, followed by 15 minute rotations.  Surprisingly we all kept to time, but in hindsight we should have had a nominated time keeper rather than syncing watches.  Afterwards we threw in a management scenario, with mixed results to say the least. 

Other elements that were looked at were 21, 22 and 23, as well as the next 2 prep events based in Portland.

Overall, it was by far the best prep event.  I know I performed well although there’s always room for improvement, and the group is really starting to gel. 

The equipment I took for this event was:
· Basic SCUBA (open water).
· Datum.
· Clip weights.
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.
· Whiteboard and marker pens.
· 30m rope, shot and buoy.
· Resusci Anne.
· Training O2 kit.
· Live O2 kit.
· Separate BCD (for kitting/de-kitting as I traditionally use a wing and OPH).
· Throw line.
In addition, as a group we also brought:
· Another O2 kit.
· AED.
· AED Resusci Anne.
· Further rope, shot and buoy.
· First aid kit and bandages.
· Flipchart.

This event is organised by the candidate group as one of their final preparations before the examination. It will usually take place in the area where the exam is to be held and, if possible, using the same boats. It will be ‘a divers event’- the aim is to go diving with a very competent group. As well as enjoying the diving we want to take the opportunity to practice and coach each other on the skills associated with the expedition and task oriented diving. The teaching will almost exclusively as if teaching first class divers or potential first class divers. You will be coaching each other to improve your skills in teaching at this level and will be supported by experienced National Instructors.

Date: 13/14 May 2017
Location: Portland. 
Format: Candidate organised, skippered, expedition boat diving.
Cost: No course fee, share of boat costs, travelling expenses met.

Up to this point, despite the many challenges the prep events have been based around the IFC, OWIC, PIE and TIE ITS events which, for the majority of ITS staff, is bread and butter stuff.  This event focuses on the FCD, which, I only did last year so I’m hoping should be straight forward(ish). 

In-between the Open Water and Hardboat preps I was working on a number of ITS events which meant more practice on the core ITS elements such as lesson delivery and report writing.  And for the umpteenth time I updated my lesson/skill slates.

Unlike previous events where set elements were covered off individually, multiple elements would be covered during the day, sometimes simultaneously.  These elements were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 21, 22 and 23.

Three weeks after the event, I’ll try to cover it the best I can but will probably be very brief as I’m supposed to be prepping for the next event in a weeks’ time.  Arriving early at the Royal Breakwater on Friday it was my intention to revise however I just ended up sleeping for a few hours instead due to the workload leading up to the event.  At 1900 we all met in the function room and started the event.  We each had to mentor one of the examiners who was a newly qualified AI wishing to go for FCD, but due to lots of quarry diving, has very little boat experience.  As a group, we carried out the dive planning for the following day, with the examiners rotating around.  Each had their own personal development plan so we had to liaise with the ‘mentor’ to cover their set areas off.  I think a big lesson for all of us for the small boat prep and the exam, is to have lots of the planning pre-done, and then teach how we got to that point rather than teaching it from scratch, as it was fast approaching 2200, we hadn’t eaten and we still had plenty to do.
Arriving at the Marina after breakfast we loaded the boats and carried out the dry rehearsals.  The rehearsals were extremely important as areas of improvement were identified and resolved in an environment where we could communicate.

Setting off we headed out to the Binnendijk.  So far, plenty of teaching opportunities missed for us to teach to our FCD wannabees.  Boat loading and even tying down, shot construction, ropes off, steering the boat, using the GPS etc… and that’s without the normal general knowledge questions.

The dive itself was uneventful, and was a nice change from the pressure above the surface.  From here we then headed inland to carry out a survey on one of the DORIS sites.  It was intended to do a search covering all 4 cardinals, with one pair on each cardinal, however due to a rapid ascent by one of the pairs only 3 were covered.  The vis was good but the dive un-eventful. 

Overall, the day went well but there were a number of things that we could have better prepared, such as timings and an overall plan.  Despite doing some of this the previous evening, we had (wrongly) assumed that it was a vehicle to see us teach.  The evening continued a days debrief followed by further planning and teaching.  We all opted to miss dinner as there was enough spare food leftover from lunch.

On Sunday I was the day manager, and dive manager for the first dive.  After the usual rehearsals and setup we headed out to the British Inventor which would lead to a (planned) drift over Lulworth Banks.  And then a survey of another DORIS site.

The weekend was tiring.  So much so I seem to have forgotten all of the content for this report.  But we all learnt something new and were better prepared for the next, and last prep event.

The equipment I took for this event was:
· Twinset/stages.
· Drop tank
· Clip weights.
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.
· Whiteboard and marker pens.
· 30m rope, shot and buoy.
· Resusci Anne.
· Training O2 kit.
· Planning kit (charts, plotter, books etc…).
· Tape measures.
· Survey sticks.

In summary.  It was like the FCD exam all over again but teaching it not just doing it.

This event provides candidates with the opportunity to plan, organise and practice teaching and coaching from un-skippered boats. The scenarios are as if tutoring students at an advanced instructor or first class diver level. It will provide the opportunity to review all aspects of the un-skippered boats aspects of the assessment.

Date: 10/11 June 2017
Location: Portland. 
Format: Practical boat diving organised and coached by candidates with assistance from experienced national instructors.
Cost: No course fee, share of boat costs, travelling expenses met.

Going into this event I knew it would probably be my worst, and the hardest event.  Why?  It’s focused around the AI, which I did back in 2009, some 8 years ago.  And to make it that little bit harder, the syllabus has changed.  To help me better prepare I assisted on an Advanced Instructor Course (AIC) on 5-6 June 2017 at JSSADC Plymouth.  The new course shifts the focus away from the traditional ‘demo/do” to complimentary teaching techniques which can be used if they’re at least as effective as demo/do.  Such techniques include visualization, verbalization, model demonstrations, positioning and observation, coaching, pantomime, prompt cards, and Feedback (reflective analysis).  Day one was spent in the classroom, followed by a trip to the quarry for the project due to bad weather.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to observe much of the teaching due to the poor vis.  Following a late planning session due to local traffic we all got to bed rather late.  Day two was nearly cancelled but we managed to get out on the boats for the teaching dives within Plymouth Sound behind the Breakwater.  Overall it was an enjoyable 2 days and I was glad that I did it.

Back to the softboat prep, following the last event it had been decided that we should pre-prepare a number of items to make our life’s for this event, and the exam, significantly easier.  These tasks ranged from tides, passage plans, site info (inc slacks), marine ID, distance/time lookups, risk assessments and surveys to name a few.  On the event these served us well as we could focus on teaching, rather than doing and teaching.  In the words of another candidate:

We are going to plan the Site selection.  I'm going to recommend that we dive the Alex Von Opstel because it is in the depth limit that has been requested and its slack allows us to dive it between 10:00 and 11:00.
How do I know this?  Well I created a plan when I knew that I was coming here. This demonstrates role model behaviour. 
Now how did we work out the depth of this wreck. Are you happy with working out the depth by using chart datum? 
Yes - excellent well you have a go at working it and I will assist you and possibly show you a different way of doing things. I am now coaching you.  Did you see what I did? That was good but have you considered my way?  How about you teach it back to me.  I will then REAP your performance.
No - ok, I will refresh you via demo mimic but due to the fact you are an AD going on to FCD I'm not going to break down every bit.  Do you see I am teaching using appropriate progression based on your current knowledge and base level? You have a go.  Well done. Now let us have a go at this one you do it and I won't interrupt but I will then REAP what you did.  I am now coaching you.  Did you see what I did?  I will now REAP my performance at teaching you.  Would you like to have a go at teaching me?  We will then REAP your performance together.

However, not every candidate put in the same amount of effort towards the group work which did cause tensions amongst the group at times.

Arriving at 1600 on the Friday I knew I had a few hours to kill before the live TIE.  Yep, a live TIE just for us.  This would allow us to work on our report writing skills.  I grabbed my room and then dumped my planning kit in the function room where I waited for everyone else.

The TIE was a standard TIE, and I was fortunate enough to finish my report there and then.  Hopefully I am able to do the same for the exam, but importantly for this event, one less thing for me to do when I get home.  Next followed a planning session similar to the one on the last event, but not surprisingly, this one was much shorter due to the group work.  It was then decided to stay in the bar until 0100.  Probably not our best decision and certainly not advisable.  It knackered me out for the weekend.  I didn’t drink on the previous prep and I don’t think I’ll drink for the exam either. 

Like previous event, multiple elements would be covered during the weekend, sometimes simultaneously.  These elements were 1, 2, 6, 7, 9 and 10.

In the morning, I was the Dive Manager for a drift at Grove Point.  It was a cracking dive and I managed to teach marine ID and do the 5 minute instructional feedback.  Following a quick turnaround, we dived the Landing Craft/Bombardon Unit.  The vis was pants!!!

That evening was the planning session for the project dive which involved a rectangular setup and survey.  I was also the Day Manager.  Needless to say, I was in bed slightly earlier this time.    That dive went well, lots of teaching opportunities and we were all gone by 1600.

Have I done enough prep?  Only time will tell.  I’ve a number of jobs to do and areas to revise.  The 7 weeks will come along sooner than expected.

The equipment I took for this event was:
· Basic SCUBA (open water) with 2x cylinders.
· Drop tank.
· Stage cylinder.
· Clip weights.
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.
· Whiteboard and marker pens.
· 30m rope, shot and buoy.
· Planning kit (charts, plotter, books etc…).
· Tape measures.
· Survey sticks.
· Lift bag.
In addition, as a group we also brought:
· Further rope, shot and buoys.
· Clip weights.

Date: 5-8 August 2017
Location: Portland. 
Format: 4 day NI exam.
Cost: £150.

2 weeks post exam.  How much can I remember…..?
Despite my best intentions, as is typical with my diving career, work got in the way.  Having recently moved jobs internally, most of my free time has been completing my HOTO and getting to grips with the new position which meant 7 weeks prep was realistically 2, and that included writing an SDC for the exam.  More of that later.  Had I done enough?

Friday (the start of hell)

I arrived early, around 1030 as I knew if I didn’t, I’d end up being stuck in work and I still had prep to do.  Will had already arrived and had sorted out the function room of the Breakwater Hotel.  We each had our own table, there was an examiners table, and also a ‘safe zone’ that was out of bounds to the examiners ;-)  We also mounted the 23 elements up on the wall to act as a tick off sheet.


After lunch rooms were moved into (opted for my own on advice rather than sharing like we had the previous events), individual revision was done, as well as rehearsals of our dry practical phase of ours SDCs.  That was beneficial to the three of us (the fourth dropped out the day before due to personal circumstances) and everyone made changes.  Especially me, as the only person who had previously seen mine was the cat.
1830 soon arrived and Maggie gave us a very short brief before further briefs on the elements 9 and 10.  Then, straight into the first element.

20. Upstairs quickly to change into my BSAC polo shirt.  The scenario; passed NI last year, brought in at last minute due to an illness.  Running an IFC, OWIC and PIE over 1 week for a remote overseas branch.  Just off an 8hr flight and meeting the committee prior to a branch BBQ.  Lots of questions.  They wanted the world, and appear disgruntled with BSAC as an organisation due to them being overseas.  They asked for O2, PRM, ALS, C&PF, DCA, ADP and MGB.  Obviously, all this is not possible in the 3 days I had spare on my trip so I tried to get them to prioritise what they wanted.  I discussed that an OWI can do O2 & PRM.  As well as development of existing instructors within in the branch, so example, their BH instructor shadowing me on the DCA so they could then run in-house courses.  I also discussed the approved instructor list on the BSAC website so they can see what they can already teach.  There was then questions about 16 and 17 year olds doing the IFC, OWIC, and PIE.  I said I would have to get back to them.  Problems with HQ and medical referees, BSAC partner discounts not relevant to them, and the new OD course.  Hopefully I got the last bit right, and ask them what they wanted as a branch in terms of benefits due to being overseas.    I think I messed up a few areas, but I didn’t blag.  There was also lots of self-doubt on questions that I should know based on their response.  I did follow this up that night with a letter which I gave to them in the morning clarifying any areas that I couldn’t answer or got incorrect.  After all, that is what I would do for real.  If I say I’ll get back to you I will.  But would it count as the element was over?

That was it for the day.

Saturday (the pool day – think IFC and TIE)

12.  This was split into 2 parts, the initial planning, and then the IT piece in the pool.  I think the planning went well, but it took 18 minutes, not the 15 as specified.  Which, sometimes is real as the first one is slower as you introduce the materials and get to know the group.  But, the whole class were involved and we got a good plan together.  The in-water element went ok, but I got in the water too soon.  You’re supposed to be in first, and I did so as I was expecting a silent entry as planned, but instead it was a giant stride so there was a delay with fins etc…  Bugger.  My positioning was ok, but there’s always a dilemma here.  How much do you step into another FCD, AI, ITS’ lesson?  Too much and it could class as insulting but too little and you could see yourself off.  I did my top in 5.5 mins, and tail in 4.5 mins which was pretty much spot on, with an overall time of 32 mins as the lesson overran slightly.  The lesson I delivered for the other candidate went ok, but as mentioned earlier, it’s always hard delivering a lesson someone else has planned as you have your style and method of delivery. 

11. This lesson went well.  I had DV retrieval.  I was able to bring out lots of IT points.  The only minor bit was, on the P of step, I only did 2 steps in-water.  Enough???

19.  Again, a quick change into my BSAC polo shirt.  The scenario; it is a regional meeting.  The DO and representatives of branches are concerned about IPO and what it raises in-branch.  Luckily, I had done some revision the night before, but I still wasn’t 100%.  I covered a bit of background, signs and symptoms, and the importance of risk assessments but overall, carry on diving as normal.  Then a summary.  Overall time, 4:30.  Enough, or a complete blag?

15.  No different from the prep event.  Same student, same lesson title, however a very different lesson.  This was followed by 1 minute to ask a question and then a further 30 to write the report.  Top tip.  For both this and element 14, have a blank report pre-saved with your name, venue, etc…  It’s an extra couple of minutes that you’ve then got for your report.  At least one of the other candidates delivered the same grade as me.

18.  Luckily I was still wearing my BSAC top as there was only about 5 minutes to setup and I was first.  IT issues.  Bugger.  It worked well on the rehearsals.   How did it go?  Instead of a 20 minute presentation on Dive Management, split into 10 minutes theory and dry practical, it was 22 minutes split into 15 and 7 respectively.  As expected it was also rushed.  I tried to fit too much in.  And the revision last 4 minutes!!!  To be honest, I could have easily made this 45 minutes!  Also, when asked them questions as part of the revision they were stone faced and non-responsive.  I did also have a question at the end which I’m not sure how well I answered.  I really don’t know…

1.  The first of 2 sessions.  Didn’t go as well as I would have liked and I forgot silly basic info.

Sunday (the small boat day – think AIC)

The day started with a dry run of element 7.
6.  The scenario; OWIs who have moved from an overseas branch who do mainly OD and SD training as well as dive from charter boats.  Their new UK branch has a RHIB which they’d like to use as well as teach Wreck Diving SDC and learn more about marine life.  RHIBs.  Ok.  Wrecks.  Ok.  Marine life.  Errr, fish or seaweed?  Despite not being able to locate the wreck, elements from the Wreck SDC were taught, then taught back to me.  These included line laying and light signals.  I also taught one handed numbers on the safety stop.

After my dive, one of the RHIBs lost power.  The battery wasn’t charging.  That was anchored, a number of people were cross decked, and the dives continued.  In the meantime, the boat owners, and the local organiser who had access to their club RHIB headed out to assist.  Unfortunately, despite a new battery they had to tow themselves in.  I suggested that we all head back in numbers, however the decision was made for the good boat to head to site 2 and start the second dive.

7 & 8.  The scenario; As above but their new RHIB wants to do an exped in Scotland in 6 months’ time.  One of the objectives is to conduct a marine life survey to record data about a number of species.  The branch have never done anything like this before so wish to run a series of training exercises for the members to teach relevant skills for this project.  The technique will involve running a 25m baseline and the position of the ends must be recorded.  2 separate sites were chosen in Balaclava Bay.  Group 1 would consist of 2 candidates and 2 examiners for an hours duration, and group 2 would consist of 1 candidate and 2 examiners for 40 minutes duration.  Dry runs had been done prior to departure, and equipment plus storyboards had been prepped.  I was in group 1 and led the first half.  I taught an examiner, they repeated the skill, then got them to teach said skill to the other candidate.  At 25 minutes there was a hard stop, and the group split to carry out the 5 minute instructional feedback.  My lesson was mask clear, which I corrected in-water twice. Once on “Technically Correct” where a second, side on demo could have been used, and once on “Progression” when the lesson went no-water, little water, remove and replace.  Once both groups were done the other candidate led their part of the teach, which also included the teach of the strip out.  The task was no-where near complete, but that was not the aim.  That was the vehicle.  The aim was to teach how to teach.  Once back on the surface, after the dive was debriefed, I debriefed my examiner on their 5-minute lesson using REAP and STEP.

Overall the day went well despite the boat hiccups, however, probably due to miss-interpretation of a comment, I forgot about the timetable so lost track of how long tasks took, and how far behind are we compared to where we should be.  Considering I was the dive manager for the second dive, it wasn’t my best performance.

Once we were eventually back in, there was more of element 1 ready for tomorrow, as well as some revision.

Monday (the small boat day – think FCD)

Arriving early we set up the dry run for element 4.  It certainly helped to iron a few creases, but it was far from perfect.  Today, my role was Day Manager.

3.  The scenario; Very similar to before.  Your students are a group who are (pretty nearly) First Class Divers and Open Water Instructors.  The objective of the day is to work with them, coaching and teaching them how to complete the diving operations at a First Class prep event, with the objective of them being able to instruct on such events and run more exciting/adventurous diving.  The site had to be a wreck in the 25-40m range, and we also had to locate a further wreck (so during the day each candidate had a chance to do so), maximum use of bottom time, incorporate elements optional in Advanced Diver such as deco trapeze, lazy shop, drop tanks, have provision for an emergency, and look at pilotage.  As we headed out the day was lumpy.  So much so I was seasick.  Once on site, and following a few kit faffs we were the second pair in and our role was to attach the drop tank to the lazy shot, before descending, tagging out, and going for the dive.  Upon descending, the current was still ripping.  Someone hadn’t got the tides quite right.  But once at the bottom it was reel attached, and start reeling out.  When and if I had deco, I wanted to be on the lazy shot & not on a DSMB.  I didn’t actually end up teaching under ‘demo mimic’ but I did point out certain areas specific to line laying, and gave a role model demonstration.  I wish the current wasn’t there as it was my first dive on the Alex van Opstal and it looked a nice wreck.  At 25 minutes we ascended and surfaced at 31.  Despite the 45 minute allowed total time, it was a case of plan the dive and dive the plan, as my backup was based on a square profile using run-times.  Unfortunately, I had the shortest time underwater, but this had a lot to do with the fact that nearly everyone else was on CCR.  Back on the boat however, I did do a dry practice of line laying. 

Between dives I got a chance to play with the boat, and then had a go at teaching, and located the Binnendijk.

4.  The scenario; Continuing from earlier, the aim was to design and setup an underwater nature trail to better educate divers to the diversity of marine life in the local area.  It should be approximately 10m deep, allow for more than a pair of divers to be on the site at once, be more than a straight line, and damage to the seabed should be avoided so any lines should not touch the bottom.  We also had to gather enough information to present back at the end of the day, and write a report.  Using one of the Dorset Integrated Seabed Study (DORIS) we conducted the survey.  Overall we worked well as a team and completed the project, delivered the presentation (element 5), and a week later submitted the report.  Hopefully, it was what the examiners wanted. 

Timings did slip, and it didn’t help that the timeline was incorrect (done by someone else) but overall, an ok day performance wise.  That also concluded element 2.

Tuesday (think OWIC and PIE)

By this point, everybody was tired, grumpy and grouchy. 

17.  Due to the delays caused by the RHIB breakdown, the day started with the Dry Practical.  I knew that this may be my weakest element as, with only a few minutes notice, and without any pre-prepared notes, we had to teach elements of any of the SDCs.  Therefore, I was glad that this had moved as I had time to revise the previous night.  O2, PRM, FA4D, AED, S&R, the time spent looking at those all wasted.  Because as I walked in (I was first), there was some ‘tecky’ kit.  The scenario:  Prep event ready for ADP.  Got it.  Or at least so I thought.  Looking at the equipment my intention was, time pending, to look at back gas cylinders, BCDs/wings, regs, stages.  Overall, I was happy with my performance, but only after, did I get worried.  It’s a dry practical so the marking guide is STEP.  I delivered more of a theory based around PAVE, with some hands on.  Now I was worried, and in fact, at the time of writing, I still am.  Bugger.  My only saving grace, is even all the way back in the Instructor Foundation Course it states they need to learn theory before practical.  Therefore, if this was a prep event, some theory would need to be taught surely.  I did 2 demo-do elements and used complimentary techniques when I brought out my notepad when explaining manifolds. I got as far as twin cylinders, BCDs, and a summary.  The jury is out….

13.  Similar to the pool lesson, this went well.  I delivered DSMB.  Lots of teaching points.

14.  Observed a buoyancy lesson.  I though my report was pretty accurate.  Only minor point, all skills were done on the surface less the last one.  But, the vis was pants, so appropriate.  Was it worthy of a comment?  A compass lesson is normally done dry then surface, so possibly not.  The 30 minute writing time went quick, but I think I hit all the points.

16.  Scenario: You are to deliver a workshop to a group of OWIs who are planning to run sessions in their branches to prepare members for the assessment for the ALS.  They need to teach the practical in-water elements of this; throwing rescue, CBL, surface rescue, recovery into a boat.  My running order was CBL, recovery, break, surface rescue, break, throwing.  I started all my sessions highlighting the breakdown of the skills and scenario on the ALS, and reminded the 2016 resus guidelines as the manual states the old.  On CBL, I highlighted the stop.  Demo, mimic teach, mimic teach.  The boat didn’t exactly go well.  My demo wasn’t the best, neither did my surface recovery.  I wanted to highlight reverse teaching, but we were leaned on to do rescue breaths.  I did mess up here, as at times I was the casualty.  So how could I assess.  The throw went really well and I brought out lots of different teaching elements.  Overall, unsure.

Exam over!!! 

In addition to the individual elements, there were elements that were constantly assessed over the 4.5 days.  These included 9 which I think this generally went ok.  It linked into 10 and 22 also.  21 and 22 I would hope were a merit.  But who knows.

The equipment I took for the exam was:
· Basic SCUBA (open water) with 2x cylinders.
· Basic SCUBA (pool).
· Twinset.
· 2x stage cylinders.
· Drop tank.
· Clip weights.
· 2x tape measures.
· 4x survey sticks.
· Lift bag.
· Datum.
· Survey slate.
· Throw line.
· Enough diving spares to open a small dive shop.
· My dive management bag (which included throw line, handheld radio and GPS (which were required), tough charts, sun cream, save a dive box, hat/gloves, incident slates, DM slates etc…)
· ITS notes / lesson slates.
· IT/laptop.
· Notebook and pen.
· Planning kit (charts, plotter, books etc…).
· 3x Whiteboards and marker pens.
· Flipcharts (for the group).
· 30m rope, shot and buoy.
· Equipment to facilitate my 20 minute lesson.
· Projector.
· Projector screen.
· Extension lead.
· Clothes (too many!).
· BSAC polo shirt (for the meeting and interviews).
· Resusci Anne (not used).
· Training O2 kit (not used).
· Training first aid kit, bandages etc… (not used).
· GoPro (not used surprisingly).
In addition, as a group we also brought:
· Further ropes, shots and buoys.
· Further clip weights (totaling approximately 15).
· Further tape measures (totally 4).
· Further planning tools.
· Laminators.
· Printer and scanner.
· AED (not used).
· Trapeze (not used).
· Substance box, mini fridge, mugs (fruit, teas, coffees, biscuits, chocolate etc… to keep us going in the evenings).
· Sense of humour.

My recommendation.  Get a van, as you can see below….


Once the exam was officially over, Maggie sat all the examiners and students down, did a round-the-house chat, and then explained the way forward.  Once that was done, there was time for a quick shower and change before heading out to a local pub for a meal and a few drinks.  All paid for.  Sat with a pint overlooking Chisel Beach it was finally nice to stop and take in the atmosphere. 

Going through my head later over the next few days, I knew there were some areas that I had scored well, and some that I may have scraped a pass or scored a borderline.  Despite some dark moments during the exam, in hindsight I didn’t think I had failed any single element.  That said, I had concerns over a couple.  Not with my performance, I delivered what I thought was best, but because I didn’t know if that was what the examiners wanted.  I wasn’t confident that I’d definitely passed, but I didn’t think I’d definitely failed either.  One thing that I do know however, is that it took half a day to sort out all my kit, and a full week to recover.

For anyone wishing to go for NI, the preps are a must.  I managed to fumble my way through my FCD however I personally believe that anyone would crash and burn if they tried to do the exam without the preps.  Think of them as the equivalent of the IFC, OWIC, AIC.  Effectively the ‘courses’ prior to the exam.

Teamwork is key.  I think the other 2 candidates on the exam would agree that we all worked well together; despite a few short-tempered moments by all of us at some point.  And Dropbox.  Most candidates have a Dropbox file setup.  It was invaluable for storing group information and documents on.

Despite the frustrations, the self-questioning of why I was even bothering, and the rollercoaster of emotions, not only during the exam, but over the last 12 months, I know that regardless of the results, I am a better instructor than I was before I started this process. 

On the 12 September, I found out my result.  Shock, illation, relief; I passed.  A mixture of borderlines, passes and merits, but I passed.  However, the relief did briefly turn to disappointment as overall, I wish I had done better.  But, the 46 page report goes to show you can never tell.  Merits in areas I thought I’d fail, borderlines in areas I thought I’d merit.

I was finally given my award at the BSAC Dinner after the conference.

The final bit of NI is the Post-NI Development Workshop.  This was a whole day looking at your exam report and PDP.  Where next?  Well obviously the Senior Instructor / Senior Examiner (boss) on the OWI events is next and I hope to get this done by early – mid 2018.  Then for me at least, identify a route onto the FCD preps and exams.

I hope this blog helps anyone going for National Instructor.  If you are thinking of going for it, then do it.  You’ve nothing to lose, and will only be a better instructor regardless of the outcome.  I wish you all the very best of luck.  If you do have any questions then please ask.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l