Alex Griffin

Alex Griffin is a PADI Course Director and technical instructor trainer. Alex started diving in 2001 and then started full time in the dive industry in 2003 about the same time as starting his dive master course. He worked at Ocean Leisure and also Dive Solutions before buying Diving Leisure London in 2007. After 6 years successfully running a full dive centre he sold up and went freelance to concentrate on his main passions teaching tec divers and instructors. Alex has been tec diving since 2006 and has dived and taught tec all over the world from the UK and Europe to SE Asia and Egypt.

 

PADI Instructor Development Courses 2018

This year join PADI Course Director and Tec IT Alex Griffin for a fun, modern and progressive instructor development course! Alex is one of the most active and qualified CDs in the UK and is responsible for much of the PADI instructor development in the greater London area.

On the course you’ll learn the following amongst many other things:

  • Use PADI teaching techniques in a low stress style to get the best from your students.
  • How to work with your students in neutral buoyancy and how to apply it to real world situations using a ‘tecreational approach’
  • You’ll get the chance to incorporate instructor specialities into the IDC itself and learn how to do the same with your students.
  • Most importantly how to have fun whilst teaching as nobody goes diving to have a bad time!

In addition to a standard IDC Alex offers an equipment and buoyancy precision diving techniques workshop as a free bonus. This course covers advanced buoyancy and streamlining techniques as well as information on how to pass these techniques onto your students. Also upon completion of the course you’ll also be able to complete a special self-reliant instructor course that will teach you how to use and handle redundant gas, a great skill for all dive pros to have particularly when guiding deeper diving.

Dates:

Wraysbury, UK: 5-8 and 19-22 Apr
Wraysbury, UK: 14-17 Jun and 28 Jun-1 Jul
Divecrew, UK: 9-12,18,19 and 25,26 Aug
Scubawild, Gozo 1-8 Nov

 

Locations:

Wraysbury Dive Centre.

By being based at one of the busiest inland dive sites in the UK, we have onsite access to both open and confined water. Plenty of parking and on site gas fills, changing rooms, parking etc. As a result we can offer more in water time than just about any other IDC in the UK!

Scubawild, Gozo,

Based in Marsalforn bay, the IDC takes place in conjunction with Scuba Wild and Gozo Aquasports. Over 8 days you complete an in-depth IDC along with optional instructor specialities. For more details of our overseas IDC see here

Pre-requisites, course materials and recommended kit:

See here

Course Schedule:

The following is sample schedule for a typical IDC and may be subject to some minor changes.

  • Day 1: Course orientation, equipment workshop, buoyancy workshop
  • Day 2: Knowledge Development workshop and confined water skill circuit
  • Day 3: Confined water teaching presentations
  • Day 4: Open Water teaching presentations
  • Day 5: Emergency First Response Instructor Course
  • Day 6: Confined Water teaching presentations and Rescue Workshop
  • Day 7: Classroom Presentations
  • Day 8: Open water workshops

Costs:
IDC (AI and OWSI): £850

Full IDC (AI OWSI, EFRI and MSDT specs): £1050

Pro IDC (AI, OWSI, EFRI and 5 MSDT Specs): £1500

Self Reliant instructor: £200

All courses also include a free precision diving speciality course.

 

 

 

Why Become a PADI IDC Staff Instructor?

PADI IDC Staff Instructor is the last core recreational course before Course Director. It’s a real achievement to attain Staff Instructor so I thought I’d list three of the main reasons to push for the rating and also how to start:

1.Teaching IDCs.

PADI IDC Staff Instructor allows you to teach the Assistant Instructor part of the IDC. This is a great course to teach as it keeps you directly in touch with the standards and updates to the PADI system. It also makes you an invaluable member of the dive centre’s teaching staff as you can promote and aid the dive centre’s instructor development courses.

The London IDC has grown in success over the last couple of years and by becoming a Staff Instructor you can help to engage new candidates and also assist on the IDCs themselves. When we have lots of candidates, Staff Instructors are invaluable to the process. You won’t just be hanging about watching, you’ll be an integral part of the team, running teaching presentations and evaluating the candidates. I personally believe that helping run an IDC is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do as a diving instructor.

2.Master Instructor

After you attain Staff Instructor you’ll be able to begin working your way towards the Master Instructor rating. This relies on teaching AIs and also staffing IDCs. It’s not easy to attain and carries real kudos too.

3.Refreshing your skills.

Even if you’re not too fussed about teaching AI or Master Instructor many Staff candidates comment to me how useful they found sitting in on the IDC again without the pressure of the IE at the end. You’ll be able take everything in again as well as learn about new teaching methodologies. You’ll then be able to apply this to your everyday recreational courses. For example, we cover the neutral buoyancy recommendations for teaching all courses now including hints and tips for getting your students into trim and how to exercise control whilst neutrally buoyant.

What does the PADI Staff Instructor Course involve?

When should you think about staff? To start off, you’ll need to be a Master Scuba Diver Trainer which means having 25 certs and also 5 specialities. I did my Staff exactly one year after my OWSI and just after attaining MSDT.  There’s no great value in waiting until you have 100s of certs under your belt to do the course as, a bit like Advanced following on from Open Water, the information you’ll cover will be useful straight away.

The Staff course itself is fairly straightforward. We need to cover 4 short lectures and you’ll also need to repeat the exams scoring 80% instead of 75%. You’ll need to do a knowledge development presentation and also a confined water presentation scoring a minimum of 4 instead of 3.5 and 3.4. After that you’ll audit a full IDC learning how to evaluate the teaching presentations and matching scores with the Course Director. As such we can run the PADI IDC Staff Instructor course anytime we have an IDC running.

For more information have a look at the course page and also please do drop me a line!

DIVE MYTHS #6: I’m out of air! Er, could I have some please?

The various equipment configurations, hand signals and techniques that revolve around an out of gas emergency are ripe for a good old fashioned internet bun fight. From the contentious to the just plain wrong there are plenty of arguments for the best way to donate gas.

There is a general consensus amongst some divers that in an emergency an out of gas diver will simply rip the reg out of their buddies mouth. This has led to some people poo pooing octo donation as a waste of time or teaching people to cover their reg with one hand whilst handing off the octo with another which gives the overall impression of someone handing medicine at arms length to a plague victim.

In actual fact, most of the time, people follow their training in an emergency. Therefore if they learn to breathe from an octo that is predominantly what they will attempt to do.

At the other end of the scale there used to be a 2 step signal for an out of gas diver whilst practising an out of air drill. This involved giving the standard swipe across the neck to indicate out of air followed by a more plaintive hand to mouth gesture that was supposed to be a request for sharing gas. I used to love the idea that someone might swim up to someone under the water giving a frantic out of air signal only to have their potential rescuer simply look at them blankly in a ‘what do you want me to do about it?’ kind of way until clarification is provided in the form of the air sharing signal: ‘Oh, you want me to give you some gas- why didn’t you say so in the first place?’

Creed With arms wide open

The lead singer (who’s name I couldn’t be bothered to google) from rubbish christian rock band Creed throws his ‘arms wide open’ to reveal his octo.

The current status quo in teaching is to teach the out of gas diver to locate and secure the octopus after giving the signal whilst the donating diver throws their arms wide in a crucifixion pose of beneficence. ‘Here’ it seems to imply ‘Pluck my alternate from my lean and muscular torso and I shall grant you the precious gift of air’. The logic of this methodology seems sound: We are teaching divers to self rescue so we are essentially making the donor an irrelevance during the exercise. However when we look at this set up, do we really want to be teaching the donor to fling their arms wide whilst the out of gas diver attempts to free the octo from one of the myriad of attachments on the marketplace? Surely a bit like telling people not to yell for ‘pizza’ in a rescue course it would make more sense to inject a little more realism?

We don’t really want to teach people right off the bat to do nothing in an out of gas emergency so therefore let’s teach the donor to pass off the octopus.

First off before a collective gasp of horror emerges from the angry instructors of milton keynes this is a directive filtering through from the top bods at PADI. Secondly, let’s have a look at the performance requirement: ‘Secure and breathe from an alternate air source’. It doesn’t say to remove it from the donor’s BCD. In fact, it doesn’t say what side the octo should orient, how long the hose should be nor does it say octo at all. This means that if you want to teach primary long hose donation then knock yourself out. This also means that, just like turning valves a half turn back, the arms wide open gesture is a teaching technique that has caught on without actually being a requirement of the skill. I find this is often the case with many skills, a few other training agencies often like to make out that they teach skills differently to the PADI system but a quick look at the performance requirements of the skill show that there is a lot left to individual interpretation.

I teach this skill by getting the donor to pass off the octopus to the out of air diver but I leave the responsibility of ensuring that the reg is the right way up and the hose free and clear to the receiver. This ensures that the performance requirement of securing the reg is met whilst still differentiating this from a rescue course skill where the emphasis is on the rescuer ensuring that the reg is supplied correctly to an out of gas diver.

The other bonus of doing this is that the donating diver releases the octo clip. Whilst the release of the octo should be covered in the buddy check quite a few divers often have their octos secured in hose clips that often don’t release the reg but simply slide down the hose and restrict it’s length. It’s therefore also crucial that the release of the octo and how it’s secured is something that divers are taught to think about and discuss as part of their checks

I was once given some advice by an instructor who told me that in an emergency the best thing that you can do is consciously slow down your actions and ensure that you get things right the first time instead of speeding up and then forgetting something which causes you to have to repeat it under ever increasing stress. Hopefully by priming students early on to help in a real emergency we might increase the likelihood of gas sharing being completed successfully so that a panicked situation is avoided.

Some FAQs about the Instructor Course

Q. Is it a good idea to become a Scuba Instructor?

A. Yes of course and it will make you more attractive too.

Q. I’ve just learnt to dive and now all I want to do is become an instructor and disappear somewhere hot. Am I being crazy?

A. No that’s exactly how I felt, so that’s pretty much what I did. I started my IDC a week after my 100th dive so I certainly don’t think people need to go and do masses of diving to ‘get good’. You’ll need to do a bit of work and build those dives up but it needn’t take ages and is completely achievable.

Q. What do I need to have done to become a Diving Instructor?

A. You’ll need to have completed Open Water, Advanced, Rescue and Divemaster through the PADI system (or another training agency-crossovers are usually fairly simple). You’ll need 100 dives. If you’re struggling to get the dives up then can I heartily recommend a Red Sea Liveaboard? They’re a fantastic way to get about 20 dives in a week. You’ll also need experience in deep, night and search and recovery diving (best bet is to get the specialities). You’ll need to be declared medically fit and then you’re pretty much good to go.

Q. Will I be able to get a job in the dive industry?

A. Let’s assume that you are a friendly, reasonable person and a competent diver then the short answer is ‘yes, no problem. The longer answer is that full time jobs in the industry are usually abroad but if you’re prepared to go overseas then work can be found easily through the PADI jobs board and once you’re ‘in’ you’ll find out about more opportunities. In the UK most dive centres are crying out for weekend instructors, especially through the summer. It’s a part time occupation which most people do on top of a normal job but it’s immensely fulfilling. However there are fulltime opportunities in the UK if you’re prepared to seek them out and put yourself forward.

Q. Will I be showered with riches?

A. Er no. This isn’t a job you do if you want to get rich. You should receive payment for your work but If you’re primary motivation is money then you might want to re-think….

Q. Do I need to have excellent skills to start the IDC?

A. You don’t need to have them nailed to perfection but you should be comfortable and familiar with them. That’s part of the Divemaster Course. If you’re rusty or want a little more practice it’s a good idea to get a pool session in before the IDC starts.

Q. I’ve read through the website blurb about the IDC but what exactly does it all mean?

A. The IDC is about teaching you to use an educational system which becomes the foundation of how you teach. What that means is that you’ll learn how to put together classroom presentations where you use a template to make sure you hit all the required points. The idea is that you can use the template to put together any teaching presentation. The same applies to the confined and open water stuff. You’ll use a structure where you show control of the group, problem solving and use of your Divemaster. It all follows a logical process and most people eventually click into it fairly easily. You’ll just keep on practicing until you’re happy and then it’s off to the IE

 

A few thoughts on the new padi open water course

Last weekend I finished an IDC for the lovely Aquanaut in Kingston and Dive Wimbledon. We had a great time and I know the candidates will nail the IE. As part of the IDC we spent some time discussing the new skills in the updated Open Water Course and practising those skills in the pool.

One of the things that came out of the practise sessions is that there is definitely a little more investment of time in the new version required to deliver a valuable course.

Both of these centres just like Diving Leisure London and Big Squid offer a quality Open Water Course/Referral. They all charge in the region of £400 for the full open water and just under £300 for the referral course. They don’t do one day groupon deals for £80 (plus course materials, plus PIC etc etc). My views on groupon can be found here…..

The price of an open water course hasn’t changed much since I started in the UK industry over ten years ago. However in that time VAT has increased, rent, rates etc all have gone up.

All these centres are running with a group of students over four days for a full course or two for a referral making it around £100 per day to learn to dive. Personally I think this is a total bargain especially as that is pretty much all inclusive too. Really it should cost more and I’m hoping to see the price of an open water rise to around £450 and a referral to £300.

I’m not aiming to point out the impossibility of delivering a course to the same quality level as the aforementioned dive centres when you’re charging a third of the price with 3 times the number of students and half the time (oh I just did) but more to express my hope that the demands of the new open water course will begin to affect the ability of low cost/high volume operations to actually meet the required standards.

Without entering into specifics, the main differences between the old course and the new are an emphasis on trim and buoyancy as well as the student demonstrating the ability to plan and conduct dives as a buddy team. Buoyancy in particular is a hard concept for many students to grasp over a two day referral let alone one. Introducing trim (ie hovering in a more horizontal position so as to be more efficient and less likely to damage the marine environment) adds a greater level of difficulty.

Trying to bash this stuff out in an afternoon (except in one on one situations) is going to lead to divers who are unprepared for the open water dives and perhaps, just perhaps, the centres overseas that receive these students will begin to question more firmly how the referral course was run.

The new open water course is a fantastic opportunity for quality dive centres to differentiate themselves from the others. Let’s make a big deal about the new skills and how the extra time and smaller groups offered over a 2 day referral course will lead to much more confident divers.

Personally I’m really enjoying getting instructors up to speed with the new course so we can all begin to create happier, confident divers who are much more likely to continue their diving education.