At the beginning of the month both pairs of trainers attended a tutor insight day held by the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) at Better Bankside.
From next year, we learnt, this will be where most PTC courses are held, and there is much to recommend it – lots of natural light, lots of versatile space and all mod training cons. It is near London Bridge tube, which is as convenient as any venue can be in a city as large as London, and there are some excellent cafés nearby. It's difficult to find good training venues that don't either cost a fortune or impose impossibly long lead times for cancellation, but it looks as if PTC may have succeeded.
What doesn't work
I thought about training rooms I have been in and how many of them are not conducive either to learning or teaching. The first training course I ever attended had a pillar in the middle. It had a curious effect on the dynamics of a session with those of us on the one side feeling distanced from those on the other. The trainers must have found it odd as well.
Recently I joined a colleague to deliver the final session of the day on grammar (she had been instructing in the arts of web editing before I arrived). The room was small, too small for the number of people, but the real problem was that it was a hot day, opening windows was the only means of ventilation and the sound of a pneumatic drill could be heard all day.
Light is really important: flickering neon and being buried underground don't help. Small rooms where everyone, trainer included, feel hemmed in reduce movement and energy. Perhaps the worst room I have been consigned to was on the fourth floor of a hotel in Birmingham: smoking was allowed on the floor where we spent the day and the windows were painted shut. The coffee was the palest of browns and stewed, and the sandwiches at lunch were curly.
What does work
Light, heating (not too much and not too little), space and ventilation all contribute to a lively training session. Room to move so that people can get a drink or a tutor can check work is vital. Catering is important, non-curly sandwiches, fresh coffee and a variety of teas are a must, fruit is always a welcome addition. Functioning technology is also a sine qua non.
Better Bankside meets all the basic requirements, and if the catering on the tutor day was anything to go by, the venue will be a sure-fire success.