Institutional Associate Trainers


While for many years sparqs has employed a team of Associate Trainers to deliver its course rep training around the country, we have been moving to help institutions and students' associations to develop their own training, and to recruit and manage their own teams of trainers.

We have called this programme the Institutional Associate Trainer (IAT) scheme.

The benefits of institutions managing their own training programmes - albeit with close support from sparqs - are that:

  1. Training can be customised to the structures, cultures and needs of each institution.
  2. There is more flexibility in the potential number of timing of delivery with an institutional team rather than one accessed through sparqs.
  3. It retains the peer-led model and provides a development opportunity for students interested in this area of work.

The IAT scheme began in 2011-12 with a pilot involving the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA), Glasgow University SRC (GUSRC) and Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA). The scheme has now opened up to others around the country and now includes a number of both universities and colleges.  

Training of ATs and IATs in 2020 – online resources

The usual AT/IAT training event took place online from Tuesday 25th to Thursday 27th August 2020

This event followed an online blended model, including:

  • Self-directed study, completed in advance.
  • Live webinar discussion in small tutor groups.
  • Online group work.
  • Breaks during each day, including some independent study activities.

Have your needs changed related to course rep training?

The COVID-19 emergency has had an impact on the plans that some institutions already had in place related to delivering training to course reps in the new academic year. For example, some institutions that used to organise their own training are now seeking the support of sparqs’ trainers for this year. If this applies to you, and you haven’t already discussed this with us, please tell us about your new circumstances in order that we are best able to support you.

Therefore, please contact Ali McDade in either of these cases:

  1. If you normally use your own IATs to train reps, but this year you might need the support of sparqs’ ATs.
  2. If you will have IATs that require training later than our scheduled training in August, for example if IATs will be recruited once the academic year has started.

Bookings for training delivered by sparqs’ ATs opened on Monday 17th August 2020, for sessions deliverable from mid-September onwards.

Recruitment and training of IATs

We can provide a wealth of materials and guidance to support IAT recruitment, including application forms, interview questions, contracts, and so on, and can offer a member of sparqs staff as an external member of interview panels. 

We can support induction and development events for IAT teams, and we include them in our annual Associate Trainer event at the end of August each year. This three-day training (online for 2020) equips trainers with the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfil their role, including a session for team-specific information and processes.

Getting your rep system in place and recruiting your reps during COVID-19 is crucial and will require some changes in the light of the current circumstances.  Therefore, sparqs has produced a briefing note to help institutions prepare their course systems and recruit their reps during the crisis.  

For an overview of what's inovolved in equipping the trainers, you can view the Twitter story from the 2019 event.  The 2020 Twitter story will be uploaded soon.

Participation in the IAT scheme

To ensure the quality of training reps receive remains at the high level currently delivered by sparqs Associate Trainers, we require of all participating institutions that:

  • All student trainers receive an induction.
  • There is a line manager in place in each institution, to provide support to the student trainers and act as a point of contact between the organisation and sparqs.
  • All student trainers attend all days of the mandatory training in August.
  • Evaluation data from course rep training sessions is provided to sparqs to allow comparability of provision.

For more information about the IAT scheme, please contact Ali McDade

Student Engagement Framework

Student Engagement Staff Network meeting

15 Apr 2021

Our Student Engagement Staff Network continues its series of monthly, half-day events. View the Agenda for further details of…