Presidents Blog 15/12/2021

Christmas is coming...

Hello Everyone,

I hope you have all had a good week. My biggest monster has been off school for a couple of days with a nasty cold, that thankfully was not covid related! But due to him having had covid it went straight onto his chest. Today though he is back at school for the last two and half days of school before the school holidays. How on earth are we almost at the Christmas holiday period already?? I blame Dr Who and his description of time:

“People assume time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey wimey stuff!”

This is why Christmas is always a shock to the system!!

I finish for Christmas today as I have TMAs to write, and I want to get them done beforehand so I can get some real time off with the family. Especially as when I come back in January, we are coming straight back into the Association’s 50th birthday year and our Conference at the end of January. If you were successful in the ballot for Conference don’t forget to register to confirm your place. Also, whilst you are registering, keep an eye out on the website and on social media for more details of 50th events coming up. 

Over last weekend I popped into the Associations central committee representative training; can I just say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the training and thank you to all of you who give up your time to volunteer on behalf of students. 


I finished up my report for Conference and made a start on my huge to-do list, which thankfully has a massive dent in it now. I then had a meeting with Ceri Wilcock, Deputy Director of Student Experience at OU Wales. We had a great discussion around strategic thinking, and she gave me some great things to look at and read. I met with Liz Marr, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Students, and Sally Hayes, Director of Students in the PVC-students office; we discussed many things including degree-awarding classification algorithms. Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement, and I had our regular meeting and talked about the new website and Conference. Student satisfaction improvement working group was next. We covered a lot of ground, including complaints processes and dissatisfaction for students. Beth Metcalf, Director of Membership Services, and I then had a discussion around training needs. After my chiropractic appointment, it was the monthly Student Leadership Team huddle. There was a great discussion around possible student-led projects. Keep an eye out over the coming months for more information and opportunities to be involved.


The Stela Operations group met, and it was great to see that so much progress has been made in getting alternative study formats to students. I led a discussion with the Student Leadership Team around potential changes to our Byelaws in the Association’s collaborative working space. The potential updates to the Byelaws are a supporting document that will be going to conference delegates for their consideration. I then met with Nicky Powell, Senior Volunteer Training and Wellbeing Officer; we discussed training that is being organised for the Student Leadership Team. Next, it was my weekly meeting with Sue Maccabe, Strategic Projects & Change Coordinator, we ended up discussing how to be more Pirate! It’s around challenging norms, shifting mindsets, and thinking differently (not wearing eye patches and speaking in a west country accent as I had first thought 😉). Heather Bloomer, head of DigiComms, and I discussed the website project and various 50th issues. I am so excited for both projects to go live! Reiss Miller, Project Manager for Conference and the 50th, and I then had our regular weekly meeting to discuss an update on Conference and the 50thcelebrations. I will be really pleased to introduce the guests that we have coming to Conference and hear what they have to say. Tuesday evening was the 50th steering committee, I love working with this very creative and supportive group. 


My first meeting of the day was an early morning call with Graham to discuss student-related matters. My next meeting was with Debbie Reynolds, from People Services, Rebecca Galley, Director of Academic Services, and Rob Avann, Chief Executive of the Association, to discuss industrial action short of a strike planned by the Universities and Colleges Union and the mitigations that are being put in place to support students. The Access and Participation Plan steering group met next with a very full agenda focussed on closing attainment gaps and supporting students who may need more help to succeed. I have a couple of catch-ups with Fanni Zombor, VP Engagement, and Rob Avann before a meeting on disclosure checks to end my last day at work this year!

Well, this is my last Presidents Blog of the year as I am now on annual leave. It has been a full-on year with so many different activities taking place to support students. Yet again I am blown away by the efforts of our student volunteers to support and represent student views at all levels of the University. So, let me take this opportunity to say a huge thank you. 

When I come back to work in January it will be our 50th birthday, starting with Conference in January, I am excited!! If you have a story that you would like to share with us about being an OU student, be it past or present, we would love to hear from you

From my home to yours, however, you choose to celebrate this time of year may I wish you peace and hope for the new year.

2022 will be the year of OU Students – be prepared to celebrate!!! 

Until then, go well and I will see you next time 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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