Of TIEs PIEs & IFCs

Claire and I recently passed our PIE’s (Practical Instructor Exam) and are now OWI’s! (Open Water Instructors) At the suggestion of Dave Tresidder we wrote this piece to share some of our experiences and hopefully pave the way for some more club members to gain their very own TLA’s (Three Letter Acronym)!


For us the pace along this road has been rather pedantic – we started, as all prospective instructors must with (you guessed it, another TLA!) the IFC, the Instructor Foundation Course, last winter! This is a weekend long affair in which you learn how to teach. It covers classroom lessons as well as pool session skills and during the course you present a 10 minute lecture on a topic assigned to you as well as doing a short pool lesson. Whilst this was a rather daunting prospect you learn a lot along the way before you do these lessons and the feedback from the instructors is very positive as well as being constructive. It also made it easier realising that all the other candidates are as nervous as you are. The IFC’s are often done in winter so the instructor trainers have the summer for the open water sessions.

Having got the IFC behind you, you can either go on to do the TIE (Theory Instructor Exam) and get your very own Theory Instructor number or you can pursue the practical side by first doing the OWIC (damn, four letters!) and then the PIE. Claire and I did the TIE first which is a written paper as well as a ten minute lecture on a subject assigned to you. You have two weeks to prepare for your lecture and here we found feedback from the instructors within the club invaluable. Having passed this we moved on to the Open Water Instructor’s Course which is a day long practical session in which you get to teach an open water lesson. There is no pass/fail assessment to this session but you get extensive feedback from you instructor trainers as well as getting to watch the other students so it is a very useful day.

For Claire and I the final hurdle and the most daunting one was the PIE. This exam is an evaluation of your ability to teach in open water and focuses on the four essential criteria, Safety, Technically correct skills, Effective teaching and Progressive teaching. You only get a very brief period to prepare the lesson assigned to you on the day so it is essential to have all your potential lessons planned and prepared well in advance. We had gained some experience along the way by teaching in the pool as well as at some of the open water training days (under supervision) and by getting involved in the try dive sessions. We learnt a lot by shadowing the instructors in the pool and at Wraysbury but really needed to polish our skills before the lesson. Here Dave T and Jo were incredibly generous with their time and with the help of some students (some genuine and some divers pretending to be students!) we practised all our prepared lessons over a series of Thursday’s in the New Malden pool. On the day I found that having done all the lessons it was fairly easy to focus on the candidates you are ‘teaching’ and ignore the instructor trainer completely. Neither of our lessons went perfectly but there were only minor glitches and we were very pleased to get our results the next week and find that I’d passed and Claire had achieved a merit pass!

Huge thanks from both of us to the instructors who helped us along within the club – Bob Holroyde, Chris Hunka, Rachel Sharp and most especially Dave Tresidder and Jo Eaton! Thanks also to those who gave their time pretending to be students – Sandra Argent, Jonathon Markwell and Sandy Wilson.

One comment on “Of TIEs PIEs & IFCs
  1. Sandra Argent says:

    Well Done! I am so pleased for you both. It was all that stressful pool work practising my skills that did it, anything after me is a walk in the park.