Foundation Skills Workshop

Clares CatMany of the helpers we have at the School, whilst more than comfortable with traditional methods, are new to some of the “stepping stones” exercises that we are using to give students a thorough grounding in the foundation skills which lead to confidence and understanding when getting to grips with method ringing. Building those foundation skills begins at Level 2 LtR, quite a while before the student’s first attempts at ringing what most people consider to be the first steps towards method ringing.

Janet Horton put on a special “Foundation Skills” workshop, specifically to give some of our helpers the opportunity to try out and practice some of those exercises, without the added pressure of ringing them for the first time with a student ringing them for the first time.

The two hour session flew by and people got to try things like Kaleidoscope ringing, with more and more complex patterns; methods such as Bastow minimus; Bistow Doubles; Bastow Twin Hunt (Cloister) and Janet offered helpful explanations as to why they were useful for the students.

Many of us came away with a both a sense of achievement and a new understanding of some really useful stuff. Thanks Janet!

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Graduation success!

Clares CatChristine Barnell has become the first student to graduate from the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing.

Before joining the School Christine had already had one go at learning to ring, but had given up, not feeling she had ever gained enough confidence with bell control. A friend persuaded her to try again and pointed her in the direction of the School. We went back to first principles and retaught her, taking things at her pace and slowly building her confidence. Once through those early stages things really took off and her progress was rapid. She graduates having rung 6 quarter peals and is a credit to the School.


We won’t be saying goodbye though – she’s signed up to come back as a helper.

Congratulations Christine and very well done!

What a weekend!

Clares Cat


Congratulations to 2 of our students on ringing their first quarter peals this weekend: Paul Mobey and Chloë Harris took part in Arthur Reeves’ quarter peal afternoon on Saturday before the St Martin’s Guild AGM.

Paul rang the treble to Grandsire Double at Smethwick: and Chloë rang the treble to Plain Bob Doubles at Handsworth:



Triple success for Tim

Clares CatTriple success for Tim today at Harborne – first quarter peal, tick; first quarter covering, tick; Level 3 Learning the Ropes complete, tick. Phew! Well done Tim.

New term gets off to a good start

Clares CatWe’re two weeks in to the new term and the decision to operate a 3 tower rotation to ease the strain on helper numbers is proving to be a good one. We have the resources to work at full capacity throughout September.

So how does it work? The flagship tower, Tower A (St Paul’s), continues to operate every week, with a combined L1 bell handling and L2 foundation skills session, making good use of the dumb bells for the bell handling. The other 3 towers, B (Handsworth), C (Harborne) and D (Edgbaston) operate a rotation system, where two out of the three towers run each week. The students from the tower not running are then invited and encouraged to be the “helpers” at St Paul’s for that week.

Are there net gains or net losses? Overwhelmingly there are net gains to this system:

  • a fairer rotation system means that students at L3 and above get an equal number of sessions per term.
  • for the students helping at St Paul’s they get a session where they can revisit and consolidate the foundation skills, whilst getting the satisfaction that they are already sending the elevator back down to students on the ground floor.
  • the tutors at St Paul’s get to see the progress made by the students they were teaching, who have since moved on.
  • the students at St Paul’s get to meet and interact with other students further up the scheme, which will allow for greater peer support.
  • with the students filling the spaces as helpers at St Paul’s, there is less strain on resources as fewer helpers are needed overall.

And the net losses?

  • the students at Towers B, C and D get dedicated sessions two weeks out of three, instead of every week resources permitting.

The implications for the future look bright with this system. It has always been the plan that once students graduate from the School they will be encouraged to continue coming as helpers to boost the numbers of helpers. We are just getting them to do this a bit sooner. A long way in the future, the majority of the helpers and many of the tutors may well be graduates of the School. That’s the plan anyway.

Real ALE

Clares CatYesterday’s St Martin’s Guild ALE (Adult Learners’ Event) was enjoyed by a number of the BSoBR Students.

After School in the morning, several of the students, tutors and helpers hot-footed it over to Sheldon to join other Guild members for the first of four towers, that had been arranged by Simon, for what has become one of the most popular events on the Guild’s calendar. Around 18 Adult Learners benefitted from the help and support of some of the more experienced ringers in the Guild at a variety of towers South East of Birmingham.

Well struck Rounds and Call Changes, Plain Hunt, and Grandsire Triples at Sheldon (8), were followed by some 12 bell ringing at Solihull (12). Participants got the chance to experience rounds (and call changes for some) with yet more experienced ringers drafted in for the higher numbers. Numbers topped 30 at this point in the afternoon. Out into the countryside and the challenge at Packwood (8) was the weight of the bells – 6cwt and the need to “handle with care”. The last tower of the day brought a different challenge. Rowington (6), rung from the chancel crossing, and a very long draught.

Thanks to Simon for his excellent organisation (as usual). Put 14th November in your diaries for the next one.

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