Briefing paper- update to Examination via Freedom by servitude.

The Court have recently made changes to our examination and interview process for Journeymen Freemen. Whilst we’re really pleased to see vocal support for the Hall to maintain standards, it seems that there are many crossed wires in understanding what has changed, and why.

Since the roll out of the Boatmaster Licence (BML), the Company has needed to redefine its purpose and role. Whilst we no longer can issue licences, we still have a responsibility to ensure we can offer the best training and career preparation for the next generation of Watermen and Lightermen.

Our Apprenticeship and Training Committee has transformed the Company’s training provision over the two years, we now have a full-time training manager, along with a newly fitted out training centre, which has resulted in increasing numbers of apprentices joining, exceptional BML/LKE pass rates, and investment in technology including a training simulator to allow apprentice (and Freemen) FREE access to simulator training. Both the Chairman of the Committee and the Clerk are knowledgeable maritime people, with decades of experience in both operations and training.

The Company has prioritised the protection of the Journeyman status. The recent changes are part of this protection, not (as has been reported) some kind of minimising of the Journeymen Freedom achievement.

Whilst there remains a route out of apprenticeship via patrimony+, we have concentrated on the route via servitude (also is referred to incorrectly as ‘via examination’).

To explain the previous process first… an apprentice who has a) time served, b) their BML and c) two endorsements would come forward for an examination conducted whilst standing up in front of a row of Master and Court members. They would be examined on subjects that they have already been examined against in either their BML, LKE or one of their endorsements. The Court members available to be part of that panel were often retired Craft owing or Journeymen Freemen as the examination was held in the middle of the day, and difficult for working Journeymen Freemen to attend as examiners.

The new process is still an assessment, but in an interview format. The apprentice coming forward apprentice must have a) time served, b) their BML and c) two endorsements (one must be the Thames Watermen LKE) Apprentices are then invited to sit at the same table as those interviewing them, and the interview panel is now always a majority of working river Journeyman Freemen. Apprentices are not asked examination/interview questions on subjects that they have already been examined against in either their BML, LKE or one of their endorsements. We believe that they have already proved themselves in these areas, and we should acknowledge this. The questions cover other areas we believe are just as valuable for our future Journeyman Freemen, covering challenges they have faced in their training, as well as asking them what they expect from the Hall to support them through (what we hope will be) a long career on the river Thames.

For those who have expressed concern over these changes, it’s very simple. The two biggest changes are a) that apprentices can now sit down during their assessment and b) we are assessing them on a wider range that what is already covered in their BML or endorsements. And our request to those who are worried about how the Hall educates and supports apprentices is also simple…. come and join in! Join our apprenticeship committee, or volunteer to be part of the interview panels, or offer to come and run an evening class for our apprentices. The Company will never turn down free help we such big ambitions for the future of our training, we need lots of help.

+: Patrimony  – through a parent who was Journeyman Freeman by Servitude at the time of their birth. Patrimony Freedom can currently only be passed down one generation. Apprentices are only required to have ‘time served’ if they receive this freedom via this route.

How to communicate with the Company.

Whilst there are social media channels to disseminate information and news, the Company does not have the resources to monitor our social media or stay on top of comments.

To contact the Company, please use the following;

Master, Committees or Clerk – Julie Lithgow [email protected]

Events and Activities – Events and Operations Manager Liza Sliman [email protected]

Membership – Membership Manager Kelly Lesurf [email protected]

Training – Training Manager Tony Mason [email protected]