Presidents Blog 03/09/2021

Holidays, Paralympics, and governance...


Hi all,

It’s been a little while!! I managed to take some time off to be with the monsters. Well, that was the plan!! To be honest I got mostly abandoned whilst they went and played with their friends. It did give me the time to do online shopping for school uniforms, shoes, and all the bits that go along with that. I also purchased a new label printer. I had everything labelled in about an hour!! So Much Fun!! I am tempted to label everything now, so when I get new books for my course they will be labelled within an inch of their lives!!

I don’t know about you, but I have been obsessed with the Paralympics. I have loved watching as much as I can. I have had it on my tablet whilst I have been working to make sure I don’t miss anything. Dame Sarah Storey is my idol!! To do what she does, words fail me! And that does not happen often! I have already been blown away by Ellie Robinson, her grit and resilience have just amazed me – then she said last night on The Last Leg that she is an OU student, so brilliant news. She really does demonstrate a lot of what I see in OU students and the hard work and trials that you go through to succeed and in the end, being so amazingly proud of your achievements. 

Meanwhile, whilst I have been off there have been many things going on in the background. Our Governance Reforms Survey has been out and the chance to register for focus groups has been given. I am looking forward to next week and taking part in them. You can still register until Monday or you can fill in our survey that is open until 8 September or if you can’t attend our focus groups and have something more to say you can email the insights team.

So after some time off, I was back at work on Wednesday, a slightly easier start to September by dipping in and out of a conference (can’t believe it is actually September!!). I had a shortlisting meeting with Dan Moloney and Keith from the OU to do the shortlisting for the Head of Policy and Public Affairs. It is a really exciting role, and I am looking forward to getting someone in post. I also had a catch-up with Gabby and Rob (chief exec) to discuss the plans for the upcoming Student Leadership Team weekend. I enjoy these weekends as we get to discuss a variety of issues affecting students and how we as an Association can best represent and support students. Fanni and I then had a conversation about the upcoming Student Voice Week and the events that have been planned. It is shaping up to be a really great week. I have also managed to clear some of my emails. There are always so many when you come back from any time off. I am trying to get them cleared by the end of Friday – wish me luck!!

Thursday was another day of dipping in and out of a conference. I had my regular catch-up with Fanni, it was amazing to hear of some of the great things that have happened in the last few weeks including the agreement for a regular spot in the OU Student newsletter. This is a fantastic thing as it helps us to let more students know about what we can offer to them. If you have been receiving module materials, you should have also received a leaflet explaining some of the things on offer from the Association and that is also down to a lot of hard work from the staff and Fanni. Me and Rob also had a catch-up with Caitlin from UCU, the Universities, and Colleges Union. We regularly catch up with Caitlin so we can be kept abreast of anything that is going on that might affect the Association as employers or, as representatives of the student body, anything that might affect students. It was a really helpful discussion, even if my tech didn’t hold up as well as it could’ve! Thursday evening Dan held one of the briefings for the leads of the focus groups next week. It was a great help and I feel so much more prepared to help lead the three groups that I am doing – looking forward to seeing any of you who have signed up. 

Friday I have a meeting with Beth Yearsley who is helping to convene a Student Leadership Team virtual ‘Away Day’. This is taking place on Sunday, we will be discussing leadership and also the year ahead. I love doing things like this where we can look forward and plan how we can be the best we can be and be better able to support students. I also have a meeting with Reiss to discuss how she can support with this and also some ideas I have had for the 50th and Conference. 

This week I have written a few paragraphs for the staff newsletter Inside Track, it was great to say a few words about what we are up to and what is going to be happening over the coming year. On Sunday we are looking forward to a virtual away day with the Student Leadership Team. Beth Yearsley from Nottingham SU is going to helping us explore leadership. 

Matt Porterfield, Vice President Admin, has been meeting with Athabasca student union to discuss how they run elections as part of our elections review. Athabasca is a distance learning university in Canada and over the last year or so we have been building up a relationship with them so that we can share best practice and support each other. I know that there are a number of students who have been dealing with pending results, there are a number of student reps including Alison Kingan, VP Student Support, who have been asking questions within the OU around this. Alison has also been asking you all for any study tips, have a read of her article here and if you want to submit any to her today is the last day. Please look out for when the study tips come out. 

It is good to be back and I am looking forward to everything that is going to be coming up in the coming Academic year. I hope that you all have had a great summer and are also looking forward to making a start. Good luck! Have a great weekend!! See you next week 😊


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Sarah P Jones

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