This section sets out the requirements for those training, coaching and assessing participants in a mediator skills training programmes. For the purposes of these guidelines:
- a trainer delivers the skills and knowledge content set out in the programme.
- a coach observes the performance of a participant in the role of the mediator, usually during a role-play, and provides coaching and feedback to the participant, during and after the role-play, in order to improve their competency as a mediator.
- an assessor will also observe a participant’s performance and will provide a formal assessment of competence. They may also provide feedback, which is normally given at the end of the assessment.
Training as a mediator
Anyone seeking to act as a trainer, coach or assessor should have successfully participated in a mediation training course which meets the requirements set out in Section A. If the course had an assessment, they must have successfully passed this assessment.
In order for a trainer, coach or assessor to be credible they should have completed a mediator skills training course themselves.
Registering as Mediator (if registration is required)
Where mediator registration is required in a jurisdiction, trainers, coaches and assessors should be registered as mediators.
Some jurisdictions require mediators to be registered. This is either through legal regulation or self-regulation and may be on a stand-alone register or via mediation service providers. Where such external registration exists, it provides minimum standards for mediators that can be applied objectively to all. It may not only serve as a point of reference for new entrants to satisfy, but also could raise overall standards of mediators across the industry.
Trainers, coaches or assessors should have conducted not less than two actual mediations of at least four hours’ duration in each of the preceding three years, before being appointed as a trainer, coach or assessor.
Once appointed and in order to remain as a trainer, coach or assessor, they must continue to conduct two actual mediations of at least four-hours duration per year AND be able to show that he/she has maintained continuous professional development (CPD) of six hours per year. The CPD should be mediation specific, i.e. attended courses offering practical development, attended conferences/seminars/tutorials/debates on mediation, written articles on mediation, presented mediation training seminars or similar events.
It is recognised that in some jurisdictions where mediation is still developing, gaining actual mediation experience can be difficult. Accordingly, in this instance, acting as a mediator in a simulated mediation will be an acceptable substitute for actual mediation experience.
Finally, the proposed level of six mediations before being appointed as trainer/coach/assessor, and then two per year to continue to act in this role, is seen as a minimum and, where possible, training organisations are encouraged to set higher aspirational levels of mediation experience before appointing mediators as trainers, coaches or assessors.
In relation to the practical skill-based aspects of mediator training to which these guidelines apply, it is important that trainers, coaches and assessors are practising mediators and that they have the experience to teach, coach and assess participants in their use of the skills of the mediator. Therefore trainers, coaches and assessors must have sufficient actual experience of mediating before they begin to undertake these roles. They also must retain this actual experience to continue to act in these roles as well as undertake continuing professional development.
Training as a Trainer, Coach or Assessor
a) Trainers should attend ‘train the trainer’ training of a minimum of 18 hours, which should broadly cover, but not be limited to:
- The content for the training which should be consistent with Section A of these guidelines
- The competency framework of the course
- Adult learning techniques
- Participative / experiential learning principles
- Reflective learning
- How to manage a course, including time management and group dynamics
- How to coach and give feedback.
Such a course should ideally be conducted in small groups, and following this training, trainers should observe experienced trainers before delivering their first training. During their first training, new trainers should be mentored and should receive feedback and on-going support.
b) In relation to training for coaches and assessors, they should undertake a course which should broadly cover:
- The competency framework of the course
- Applying the competencies consistently
- Giving effective feedback
- Coaching effectively during a role play (for coaches only)
- Understanding the assessment process and procedures (assessors only).
Following this training, coaches and assessors should observe other experienced coaches/assessors before coaching and assessing for the first time. They should be mentored and receive feedback on their first assessment and at regular intervals, to help ensure consistency.
Finally, from time to time, all trainers, coaches and assessors should undergo refresher training to ensure that their skills are up-to-date.
The role of trainer, coach and assessor requires the use of considerable skills to facilitate the learning of the participants, over and above the skills of being a mediator. Therefore, in addition to being trained as a mediator, anyone appointed to be a trainer, coach or assessor should take a course which trains participants to be effective in these roles.
Levels of activity
It is important that trainers, coaches and assessors stay current in the practice of their mediator training delivery skills, the content of the course, and its coaching and assessment processes.
Therefore, at a minimum, a trainer should deliver at least one basic mediator skills training course or refresher course every two years. Training organisations looking to set an aspirational level could expect their trainers to deliver at least one training course or refresher course every year.
Coaches and assessors should coach and/or assess at least four role-play sessions over the course of two years. An aspirational level would be four times per year.
Trainers should follow the same CPD (continuous professional development) as mentioned previously in Section B.3. Trainers should also have the opportunity to meet with other trainers to discuss training in a trainer meeting each year. These meetings should be facilitated by the training organisation.
In order to ensure that course delivery, coaching and assessing is being delivered at the very highest quality level, on-going feedback should be sought from participants, and feedback should be given to those delivering the course.
New trainers, coaches and assessors should be observed and given feedback on their performance by senior colleagues. Further, there should be a system of peer review and feedback to all trainers, coaches and assessors. This may be done on an annual basis.
There should also be a more formal complaints policy for participants to use if they wish to formally complain about a trainer, coach or assessor.
There should be anonymous feedback from participants as to how they found the trainer, coach or assessor. This could be given by participants completing a feedback form following the course. Participants should also be able to give any feedback more directly if they wish, especially if there is an element that needs improvement in their opinion.
Additionally, a course should have an element of peer review so that trainers and coaches can give each other feedback on how they have delivered training.
Participants should be able to give informal feedback to coaches and assessors if they wish. This is especially important if the participant has not understood the coach./; or assessor’s comment or meaning. Participants should be encouraged to consider the difference between criticising the result and criticising the way the assessor’s feedback was expressed. A distinction should be made between participants contesting a grade or score (which should be dealt with separately) and feedback to the assessors.