President’s Blog 20/5/2022

Be Excellent to each other...


Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all had a great week. 

I have just been reminded of something whilst playing with Alexa this morning – which I must admit happens in our house way more than it should – Bill and Ted had the best life advice ever, “Be excellent to each other… and party on dudes!” Like many of my fellow students, I am graduating next week in Newport, and if I had any advice for my fellow students that would be it. You have all worked incredibly hard and NOW it’s time to celebrate! And this advice also applies to all of you who are just handing in your EMAs or just about to sit exams… they are nearly over so when they are done remember to celebrate, regardless of your mark, it is a great achievement so don’t forget to celebrate! 

We are still celebrating our first 50th birthday this month so keep your eyes open for a celebratory podcast and more news articles celebrating our history. If you have a birthday message for us, please send it to us via our email or post it on social media. We will be collating these messages to put out in December on our second 50th birthday. As part of our 50th birthday, we are aiming to raise £50,000 for OUSET; we now have a Just Giving page if you would like to give any donations. We also have some merchandise in our shop, all profits will contribute towards that £50,000 so go and check it out. 

There has been more this week on our Values and Behaviour Policy. It has been a while in the making but we wanted it to underpin all the work that we do as an Association. Please check it out here.

The time is finally here to find out who your new Student Leadership Team! By 2 pm today (Friday 20 May) we will know who will be leading The Association through the next two years starting in August. I want to say a huge thank you to all those students who put their heads above the parapet to stand. It is no mean feat to do that, and I really appreciate how hard it can be. I also want to say thank you to the way they raised awareness of student issues and got involved in making a difference. I wish you all the best of luck in the future whether you were elected or not, well done! If you want to find out who they are check out our website!

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Monday

I had a day off and spent most of it looking for jobs and improving my CV. I also had a dentist appointment – boo! 

Tuesday

I met with Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager. We discussed progress with the new achievements video, the Association’s photo archive, fundraising updates, and the July podcast. 

I then met with Danielle Cafearo, Volunteer and Representation Officer, to discuss ideas for the July Student Leadership Team meeting. It is great working with Danielle on this project as she has taken my waffle and turned it into exactly what I have seen in my head! 

Next up was a joint steering group of APP and APS. APP is Access and Participation Plan, and APS is Action Participation and Success, both groups are about widening access to higher education. The Office for Students, which looks after education in England, needs a submission by the end of July so the two groups met together to discuss what would need to go into this. There are lots of different submissions that need to be made to all the governing bodies in the nations as well. 

My next meeting was with Dave Hall, University Secretary. We discussed the new Student Leadership Team and covered what I am wanting to do next, among other topics. 

I then had my weekly 1-2-1 with Sue MacCabe, Head of Strategy and Insights at the Association. We discussed the pieces of work I wanted to get ready to hand over and what needed to be done for this to happen. 

Wednesday

My day started super early with meeting a podcast guest to talk them through what we would be discussing. 

I was then due to meet with Liz Marr, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Students but unfortunately, she was ill. Having read all the papers for the Vice-Chancellors Executive meeting I emailed all my comments over instead.

My next meeting was with the Postgraduates Futures Steering Group. This is only their second meeting and my first with this group. We went through the Terms of References and status updates. 

I then had a quick catch-up with Dan Moloney, OU Students Association Director of Engagement, and spoke briefly about the next 3 months. 

I had my regular 1-2-1 with Rob Avann, Association Chief Exec. We discussed the Individual representation service and then started to discuss my ‘what next’ questions. We then had an interesting discussion about management styles. 

I very quickly dropped into the Teaching Excellence Framework management meeting to give an update on our submissions and how we plan to work on them. 

Wednesday evening, we recorded the podcast for June celebrating Pride. We had some great guests with some incredible insights. 

In the middle of the day, I had my first governor’s meeting at a local school. It was brilliant, the children in the school are amazing. It is in an area with a high index of multiple deprivation but seems to be a place that brings the community together. 

Thursday

I met with Reiss again to discuss merchandise and to catch up about how the week had gone and what we needed to do for the next few weeks. 

I spent most of the day interviewing candidates for a new Head of Strategy and Insights. It was an interesting day, and all the candidates were of incredibly high quality. They each brought something different, and I really enjoyed hearing more about their insights into strategy and how we work. 

I did manage to squeeze in a meeting with the Digital Inclusion Management Group where we discussed study spaces within the OU’s various buildings and the Digital Inclusion seminar that I am on a panel for next week.

Friday

My first meeting of the day is with the Research Advisory board. I am then filming a short video for the Education Childhood and Youth student voice group. I also have a catch-up with Beth Metcalf, Association Director of Membership Services, and a catch-up with Mark Price, interim Chair of the Board of Trustees. I am also recording a short interview for the podcast. So, a busy day.

I am going to be taking two weeks’ holiday after I finish today. I have TMAs to write and sleep to be caught up on. I am also going to my graduation in Newport, so don’t forget to say hello if you see me there!

Good luck everyone handing in EMAs and doing exams!

Have a couple of weeks, see you on the other side, but until then, Go Well! 😊


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Sarah P Jones

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