President’s Blog: 16/07/21

New Weekly President's Blog, read what I have been up to this week!

Hi all,

Welcome to my blog! 

I have been writing this internally for the student leadership team and the staff since last August and thought it was about time I shared it with the wider student body.

This week has been a mixed bag weather-wise, earlier in the week my washing got rained on but now in sunny Bristol, it is glorious sunshine. I really wish my Wi-Fi was working enough for me to work outside! I am very much looking forward to spending the weekend celebrating my oldest monster’s 11th birthday. Sadly, not how we wanted to as his class bubble was messaged at the end of school yesterday to isolate due to a Covid case. I had every finger and toe crossed that they made it to the end of term as tonight should have been their prom and today their final sports day. Next week they would’ve been making final preparations to leave primary school. I am so sad for him, but today he has driven me nuts. Whilst I’ve been trying to work, he has got bored and kept interrupting. It reminded me of what it was like last year and earlier this year. But swiftly moving on…

Monday started early with reading Council papers. There are around 350 pages this time and lots of financial stuff to get my head around. The only paper I didn’t have to read was our own paper, so that saved 3 pages! I then met with Ian (deputy president) to catch up over the last week and look ahead to what was going on this week. I attended a Student Voice Week drop-in for staff to get ideas about what kind of events could be done throughout the next student voice week. I then had the Access Participation Strategy Steering group; this is where the awarding gaps are discussed. We also discussed an APS Strategy refresh. I then had a regular catch-up with Dan Moloney (director of engagement). We discussed various things including posting this blog on The Hoot and other ways we could get information out to students about what the Student Leadership team does (I will cover that at the end). Once a month on the second Monday of the month the student leadership team meets for an hour to catch up and talk about the various things that we are up to. This month I asked them to reflect on the last year, what had gone well, and also to look forward to what they want to do next year. We are about halfway into our terms, so this is a good time to do this. I then had a meeting with our Student Member of Council Danielle to talk through the Council papers so that we were ready for the Council meeting on Tuesday. 

Tuesday, I caught up with a bit of admin before a mammoth Council meeting. There was a lot to get through and some really interesting papers to discuss. One of the papers that really excited me was the update paper from the OU in Ireland. It is amazing some of the work that is going on there. I gave, what is now, a regular update to every Council meeting. We have asked for this to keep Council members apprised of what is going on in the Association and also for those external Council members a flavour of what it is like to be an OU student. There was a lot of enthusiasm for what was presented about where we are at and they are looking forward to the next update at the next Council meeting in the Autumn. There was a short session straight after for Council members to feed into an annual review of the Chair. I also attended an extraordinary Board of Trustees meeting so by the time I finished on Tuesday I was really tired. I hadn’t seen my boys because both Monday and Tuesday evening they were playing cricket. 

Wednesday started with a meeting with Liz Marr, who is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of students. We catch up regularly to go through the papers that go to the Vice-Chancellors Executive to discuss any points that might affect students. I had a meeting with Fanni, who is the VP Engagement for the Association, and then went straight into a project management course. The project management helped to solidify the importance of stakeholder mapping when we do things and knowing that has been one of the strategy projects is really exciting. I went from meeting to meeting and straight into a governance review implementation planning meeting to get a paper ready for the Board of Trustees who meet later this month.

Thursday has been a day of meeting with staff and the student leadership team. Starting with Ellie, Nicky, and Allan from the Volunteer team. Sue does all things strategy. Rob who is our chief exec, Bev who is the Faculty rep for arts and humanities, and Beth who is the director of membership services. There were a lot of really useful discussions around taking some actions forward and just some general catching up. I meet with Rob and Beth and Dan regularly so that we can keep each other in the loop to the projects going on and also for the guidance I need going through the meetings I have. I find what they say to be helpful as I take those high-level meetings in the University. 

I try to keep Friday as a none working day. Sometimes I study, sometimes I catch up on admin but this Friday I am spending it with my son as he is celebrating becoming 11!! It will be a different day but good nonetheless! 

Now for a quick round-up of some of the things that the rest of the team have been up to over the last month.

Matt, who is our VP Admin has been part of the panel that co-opted new members to the student leadership panel. We really did have some excellent applications and they had to choose between. 

Gareth, who is the faculty rep for business and law has been the first student involved in an OU Validation Partnership validation visit. This brought with it a lot of increased knowledge in an area he had not previously known a lot about as well as a lot of work! It was one of the hardest days mentally he has had as a Student Rep, but well worth it.

Cin, our VP Education has been working with Gareth on some of the overlaps that the faculty of business and law’s teaching committee had with the Peer Review Group

The rest of the team has been working really hard in the background on student representation in the OU and making sure that student concerns are raised in the places they need to be raised. In the month of June alone the student leadership team put in well over 900 hours working for students.

I hope that you all enjoy the sunshine and have a fabulous week… see you next week.

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Sarah P Jones


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