Vocalise operates on an academic-year timetable. Successful applicants are trained as debate mentors between October and Christmas. The training includes a grounding in the principles of parliamentary debating, as well as a focus on teaching-skills and an introduction to managing the challenges presented by working in a prison environment.
The prison teaching cycles commence from January and typically run until the late summer. Mentors are required to commit to a minimum of eight half-days of teaching. Training and prison-teaching dates are usually finalised at the start of the academic year.
Mentor training requires a commitment of one evening per week from October to early December. Mentors will be asked to commit to either the Tuesday or the Wednesday training group. We will allocate training groups according to preference as far as practicable. All sessions take place in the advocacy training rooms in Gray’s Inn. These sessions are mandatory. Absences are dealt with at the discretion of the Vocalise Directors and Board members.
Mentor training is, in itself, a hugely beneficial experience for mentors. The training programme presents an opportunity to hone leadership skills, develop advocacy experience, and meet law students from other Inns and education providers. Some sessions also provide the opportunity to gain Qualifying Sessions. All mentors are given extensive opportunities to improve their pupillage and tenancy applications. We run Debate Nights at the Inn and a full mock pupillage interview scheme for all our mentors.
At the end of the training all mentors must attend an all-day ‘boot camp’ session, where the ability to teach the debating syllabus will be assessed. Mentors must pass boot camp in order to teach at a prison.
It’s great that we get a chance to really challenge ourselves.