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WTG Class of 2012-13
Sue Bingham – I joined as a complete guiding novice and as such I can’t recommend this course highly enough. It offers a great insight into the practical aspects of guiding (walk design, group management, presentation) and gives plenty of opportunity to practise and develop. Alongside this the lecturers offer a highly professional and detailed framework of Westminster, its architecture and history, in a way that allows you to focus on and explore what really interests you. I got fantastic encouragement and support from Caroline and Fiona, who were always there to offer practical advice. They were incredibly knowledgeable. The course has a great balance of lectures, walks and quizzes with lots of group participation. I had ample opportunity to review my progress and the video sessions were particularly useful (and I never usually like to be filmed!). It’s an easygoing environment where you feel comfortable. The other course participants were such a great bunch with varying levels of experience and backgrounds but always supportive, helpful and fun. I learned a huge amount over the year and made lots of new friends. It has definitely given me a firm grounding and has left me enthusiastic about guiding in the future.
Michael Duncan – As a new guide I thought the course was great. It gave me the tools to do the job and was perfectly paced so as to build confidence and gradually increase the difficulty of tasks set. Caroline is an inspiring teacher, employing a variety of learning techniques to keep the course stimulating, challenging and fun.
(Michael is a BBC journalist.)
Chris Firmin – The course offered a stimulating mix of the factual and the practical in its approach to the history, geography and culture of Westminster. The Saturday “walkshops” were carefully designed to develop our guiding and communication skills on Westminster’s streets and were fun as well as challenging, underpinned by excellent coaching from our tutors. The course was organised supremely well in a way that encouraged an ethos of collaboration and mutual support whilst allowing individual guiding styles and research interests to blossom forth. It has provided a springboard for future guiding in London.
Alan Fortune – Caroline, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Westminster course. The content, the walks and above all the camaraderie when planning walks and assignments were all top class. I enjoyed the spirit of cooperation and mutual support with which just about everyone on the course approached the tasks we did. You and Fiona deserve a great deal of credit for fostering this and for imparting your own obvious and very real enthusiasm. It has also helped us form contacts and join networks, which should be very helpful in the future. This is due in no small part due to your policy of mixing up novices like me with experienced guides. I think this is an excellent feature of the course. I also enjoyed the individual class presentations and the opportunity to discuss academic papers on guiding. Overall, an appropriate mix of practical guiding skills development and academic reading and discussion in a relaxed non-competitive classroom milieu. I don’t really have anything derogatory to say about the course – it far exceeded my expectations!
(Alan is a university lecturer.)
Gerard (Gerry) Gearty – I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the 2012-13 Westminster guiding course and feel that the experience of being in an academic environment was not frightening at all (I had been a bit nervous beforehand). Exhilarating and stimulating is how I would describe it. Every lecture was put forward in such a way that even my untrained mind could grasp the point and use the information in my cab-guiding work. With such a mixture of personalities I found the walks, presentations and attitudes were a real eye-opener, making every training walk a good morning out with lots of laughter and learning along the way. Students on the course jelled well and were supportive to each other (especially on the exam walks), so much so that I will definitely be involved in future Westminster Guides Association meetings and collaborations. Finally I would say that the secret of the good times had by all was the hard work from Caroline Dunmore, ably assisted by Fiona Lucas, both of whom were so supportive to the students and gave fantastic feedback to each and every person on a one-to-one, sometimes two-to-one, basis, which is invaluable when you want to iron out your bad habits. Friendly learning and socialising from the tutors was so welcome and contributed to the whole experience. Needless to say I am missing the course already.
(Gerry is a cab driver and is a qualified London Cab Guide.)
Matt Gedge – What an absolutely fantastic course! I studied with the City of London the year before, and I was impressed by how Caroline has taken the basic informative ingredients of a tour guiding course and added philosophical and practical elements to make it truly thought-provoking, challenging and meaningful. I had been a professional guide for two years prior to joining the course, and I felt that this year gave me the opportunity to develop further through the exploration of the theoretical as well as the practical side of guiding. Caroline’s interest in the philosophy behind guiding has given me a more analytical approach to designing walks, while her focus on different ways of presenting the same topic – using clips from well-known presenters as well as encouraging us to explore our own range of communication – was also enlightening. Understanding that many of the students have a great deal to add to the subject, Caroline was keen to involve us as much as possible. This naturally extended to the guiding “walkshops”, which allowed us to learn and improve our craft through experimentation and feedback, being well aware that the class had varying degrees of experience. But aside from the professional and well-conceived structure of the course, what really shines through is Caroline’s – and Fiona’s – boundless energy, enthusiasm and encouragement, making it a truly worthwhile and memorable year. Thank you!
(Matt is a professional tourist guide and is a City of London Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Barry Hall – After many years working at the heart of the heritage sector, I was looking for an exceptional guiding course, appropriate to Westminster’s status as a world-class city. It is fair to say that the Diploma of Special Study in Tour Guiding has exceeded my expectations, in every respect: knowledgeable and experienced tutors; a diverse range of teaching techniques; comprehensive presentation of Westminster’s unique heritage, in all its glory: history, architecture, culture, places, people and personalities, events; even how transportation developed over the centuries and shapes the London we know today! Another special feature of the course was the attention given to research; students were given the tools to undertake proper research, using a wide variety of source material. This helped establish a high degree of confidence and authenticity in tour preparation and project work. But the real joy of the course was the sense of learning together with like-minded students – all with their own interests and insights. In large measure this was down to the course leader, Dr Caroline Dunmore, a talented and gifted tutor who engaged and involved everyone, giving us the confidence to shine and transform our knowledge into really interesting and enjoyable guided walks. Not surprisingly the class really jelled, and above all it was fun, never dull, with just the right mix of academic and practical work. It was one of the few courses that I actually looked forward to attending, even after a hard and tiring day in the office! It felt more like meeting up with friends rather than attending formal lectures; this is university standard teaching at its very best. This Diploma course is raising the bar for guiding in Westminster, and in so doing producing a new generation of professional guides, of the highest calibre. The course has given us the ability to become heritage ambassadors for Westminster, or just enjoy and share the real story behind this great city of ours!
(Barry was formerly a director of English Heritage and is a Parliamentary Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Raquel Munoz Diaz – I wanted to further develop my tour guiding career here in London and I am very happy to have chosen this course, as it has been very stimulating and useful. I totally recommend it to everyone interested in the great history and heritage of Westminster, and in this beautiful and challenging “walk of life” that is tour guiding. Thank you very much to Caroline and Fiona for all your support!
George O’Reilly – I completed the Westminster guiding course in the summer of 2013 and would thoroughly recommend it to others. The course was a stimulating mixture of theory and practice – what should the role of a guide be and what skills are required to be a good guide? Challenging, informative, inspiring and humorous, the classes were a mixture of lectures, discussions, group work and student presentations. The tutors, Caroline and Fiona, were generous with their time and always available for individual advice and support. Class members were from a variety of backgrounds, with a range of ages. Some were new to guiding, some had already completed another guiding course and some were experienced guides. We worked in an atmosphere of friendship, cooperation and mutual support and there were plenty of opportunities after evening classes and Saturday walks to meet informally and socialise. Several additional visits and walks were organised by the students themselves. Saturday mornings were where you began to explore Westminster at street level and to really practise your guiding skills, with lots of walks, stops, five-minute commentaries, and immediate constructive feedback. At the end of the course we all emerged as qualified guides, wiser, more thoughtful, more skilful and more confident. It had proved to be a very rewarding experience and though we were all delighted to qualify we were also sorry that our journey had come to an end.
(George is a retired teacher and is a Clerkenwell & Islington Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Dugald Sandeman – I have just completed the Westminster guiding course, and have found it a stimulating and enjoyable experience. The course was well paced with a good mixture of classroom teaching and practical walking instruction. The “walkshops” were the highlight, giving us direct experience of the research needed to give an interesting presentation and developing our delivery skills at the same time. The deadlines of the course gave us a good discipline and strong motivation. Doing it alongside a very full-time job was tough but achievable, but inevitably meant some compromises. It opened my eyes to the wonders of Westminster, which I had walked past for 25 years.
(Dugald is a senior civil servant.)
Jenny Sharman – The Westminster guiding course is the third I’ve taken, and is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. Caroline and Fiona made an outstanding team, with complementary skills that combined into collective genius. Caroline knows exactly how we learn best, and the course she designed is rigorous in structure and content, rich in material and delivered with passion and panache. Her own vivacious and engaging style is inspiring and encouraged everyone’s active participation. She gave well-structured feedback, which taught us how to monitor our own progress, and made sure we were at the optimal point to take the various tasks and tests required of us. I had an utterly absorbing and entertaining year.
(Jenny is a City of London Guide and a Clerkenwell & Islington Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Bill Simpson – The Westminster Guiding course is an absolute must for anyone interested in becoming a London tour guide. Suitable for beginners and experienced guides, the course gives an insight into the rich history of City of Westminster and its continuing role as the centre of government and one of the world’s foremost entertainment and tourist locations. Led by tutor Caroline Dunmore, the main focus of the course is on practical walks and student participation, supplemented by lectures and discussions, all structured to enable students to create and lead their own tours. Unlike most other guiding courses the course also touches upon the psychology of guiding, the expectations of customers and the role of the guide in the context of heritage interpretation. The course is well structured, expertly taught, and most enjoyable – a really worthwhile experience overall.
(Bill is a City of London Guide, a Clerkenwell & Islington Guide and a St Paul’s Cathedral Guide as well as a Westminster Guide.)
Neil Sinclair – I found the course extremely enjoyable and stimulating. It was very efficiently planned, structured and delivered: easily the most well-run and managed guiding course I have completed (and I’ve now completed Westminster, Clerkenwell & Islington, City of London, Southwark Cathedral & Bankside, Guildhall Art Gallery, Greenwich and an NVQ 2 course in Tour Guiding at Greenwich Community College). Plus points for Westminster, in addition to the overall course planning efficiency, include: the early involvement of students in preparing and delivering presentations on the streets of Westminster; lively and enjoyable quiz sessions in competitive groups at the end of each term; the variation of student sub-group members to foster camaraderie and increase learning/knowledge through exposure to as many other students’ presentations as possible; the huge amount of information made available either in hard copy, e-mailed attachments or via Blackboard; frequent recommendations of additional reading material, web sites, walking tours and events aimed at enhancing students’ knowledge of Westminster and relevant other subjects; the ready accessibility of the course tutor to give students additional coaching and clarification of course content if requested; clarity of teaching and delivery of course information. There are several more plus points including the very deep commitment of the course tutor and key assistants to the course, the area and the special subjects and topics of particular relevance to Westminster.
(Neil is a freelance business journalist, and is qualified to guide in the City of London, Clerkenwell & Islington, Southwark Cathedral & Bankside, Guildhall Art Gallery and Greenwich.)
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