All members holding a Permanent Controller Rating of S1 or higher are invited to become an ATC
mentor in VATSIM UK. The ATC Training Department depends almost entirely on willing volunteers
giving up their time to pass on knowledge to upcoming controllers. As a mentor you will be
conducting practical and theoretical sessions with students as they work towards their next rating,
providing feedback that is recorded and available to the student throughout their journey. Mentoring
in the UK is completely voluntary and the division is grateful for any time that a member can spend
mentoring, no matter how small. Mentoring is, however, a privilege and not a right.
Prerequisites For Mentoring
There are two prerequisites for ATC mentors in the UK:
You must hold the Permanent Controller Rating equivalent to the position on which you are
mentoring and, if applicable, any additional validations (for example, Heathrow)
You must have spent sufficient time consolidating your knowledge at a given level, before
being able to mentor there
Requirement number two may be waived at the discretion of the ATC Training Department. For example,
a student who performs very strongly in an S3 exam may be invited to mentor on radar sooner, as
consolodation at this point becomes a box ticking exercise. This requirement is also particularly
pertinent to S1 rated members, as the S1 rating officially encompases no formal competencies. Hence,
mentors with an S1 rating are those that have spent a considerable time controlling and are often
working towards their S2 rating.
Your first mentoring session(s) at a particular level will be conducted in collaboration with a
VATSIM UK Instructor. This is not a formal exam, it is simply a chance for an instructor to observe
the mentor conducting a session, in order to help the mentor develop effective and efficient
teaching style and methods. This provides mentors an opportunity to be guided as they begin
teaching. Mentors returning after a significant period away from the network may be asked, at the
discretion of the ATC Training Department, to have a supervised session on their return, to ensure
that they are comfortable with any changes that have happened in the meantime.
At present, members may typically mentor in one of the primary Training Groups (TG1 and TG2) and
additionally one of the remaining Training Groups (TGLL, TGNC, TGE). This policy is currently under
By becoming a mentor, you agree to the following terms, which are in place to ensure efficient
training and fair treatment to students.
There is to be no preferential mentoring in VATSIM UK. Mentoring sessions should be accepted in the
order in which they appear in the session requests list, for the position that you wish to mentor
on, during the time period that you can mentor. Preferential mentoring, or specifically skipping
particular students is not acceptable under any circumstances. If you feel that there is some
impediment to you mentoring a particular student, you must raise this with Training Group staff
All mentoring sessions in VATSIM UK are completed along with a session report in the Central
Training System. These reports, whilst they appear long, are not supposed to be exhaustive - you do
not have to fill in every single box if there is nothing to say. At an APP and CTR level, it is
common for half of the report to be empty as certain criteria wouldn't have been covered in that
particular session. It is important that you balance out positive and negative comments wherever
possible - there is nothing worse as a student than being bombarded by a wall of criticism. All
mentoring reports must be completed within 72 hours of the session. This is essential so that
students may see feedback on their performance and also so that future mentors may see your comments
and structure their session accordingly. Training Group Staff will actively chase up any overdue
mentoring reports, if for whatever reason you need extra time to fill in a report, please raise a
ticket with ATC Training in the helpdesk.
All criteria on mentoring reports are graded on the following scale:
- Not Covered - Has never been previously demonstrated.
- Work Required - Has been demonstrated but requires significant mentor input.
- Satisfactory - Has been demonstrated and requires a fair amount of mentor input.
- Good - Has been demonstrated and requires minimal mentor input.
- Test Standard - Has been demonstrated and requires no mentor input.
There are a few practical considerations with regards to mentoring.
Information regarding mentoring callsigns may be found in VATSIM UK's Division Policy, which is
available on the website downloads section.
Advertising Sessions and Traffic Requests
Advertisements for mentoring sessions and specific requests may be made in this forum thread
Use Of Sweatbox
VATSIM provides the Sweatbox server - a simulation environment that allows mentors to generate
specific traffic situations for a student. These may be geared towards practicing specific skills or
handling higher-than-average workload. It is important that Sweatbox is not over-used. We are very
fortunate in the UK to have a large number of movements into our airfields and we should therefore
aim to utilise them. Moreover, students also need to practice skills with pilots that aren't perfect
in every way. Therefore, Sweatbox should be used sparingly, with the majority of sessions conducted
on the live network.
There is no clear answer regarding how to structure a session, it depends on many factors. However,
a popular method is to begin with a practical session on the network. Once this is complete, the
mentor may wish to ask some theory questions (ideally, relevant to what has happened in the session)
or go through some theory material and finally end with a short debrief, covering the main points of
the session. In the event of a quiet session, it may be pertinent to do some of the theoretical
element during the gaps in traffic, to keep the student engaged.
When To Interrupt
An important consideration when mentoring is when to interupt the student mid-flow to correct them
or provide alternative advice - this can be detrimental as it can break the student's flow and have
a negative effect further down the line. Unless there is an imminent safety concern, it can be
beneficial to allow the situation to play out and see how/if the student resolves it themself. Also,
when you do need to interrupt it may be beneficial to interrupt with a question, rather than a
directive, which allows the student to find the answer themselves. For example, if the student has
given an unsafe instruction, you may wish to challenge them with something like "Are you sure that
instruction is safe?" to see if they reconsider and find the problem. Equally, at times it may be
good (where appropriate) to challenge a student when everything is actually ok, to ensure that they
are confident in what they are doing and can explain why everything is as it should be.
When a student is nearing an exam, they may be eligible for a solo validation on their exam
position, in order to practice without mentor supervision. The minimum requirement for being awarded
a solo validation is that the student must have achieved "Satisfactory" in all criteria on the
mentoring report. If you feel that the student is ready for a solo validation, please open a ticket
with ATC Training in the helpdesk
. Ultimately, whilst these requests are usually honoured, there may
be one or two instances where the request for a solo validation is declined, which is entirely at
the discretion of the Training Group staff.
Staff Drop Ins
From time to time, an instructor may sit in on a mentoring session or review mentoring reports and
give feedback to the mentor. This is entirely normal and is part of the division monitoring
progression and standards of ATC training. It is appreciated if all mentors could accomodate this as
far as practical.
If you are interested in mentoring in VATSIM UK, please open a ticket in the helpdesk
, stating which
Training Groups you would be interested in mentoring in.