Presidents Blog 25/03/22

Sunshine, Travel, and Strategy...

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you have had a good week and been able to enjoy the sunshine. 

We have seen progress on our garden office, the roof is almost finished, and it feels like we will be finished soon! 

I have had a very busy week, again! Travelling to Belfast and back in a day was incredible but has meant that everything else has been squeezed into the other days. 

My eldest monster has been off school for one day last week and another this week. Blended learning seems to be the norm. I am just hoping it doesn’t happen next week as me and Dave are away for 3 days!! 

In association news, don’t forget that there are opportunities to volunteer at graduations and keep your eyes open as our Elections nominations are now open!! To find out more check out our website. 

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I started with reading papers for the meetings that day and I prepared for my trip to Belfast on Tuesday. 

My first meeting was the Access and Participation Plan (APP) steering group. It is interesting to note that there is no monitoring of APP 20/21 data by the Office for Students; they are using their own data which could be a concern as the latest figures and metrics won’t be considered. We also approved the draft budget for next year.

My next meeting was with Sue MacCabe, Head of Strategy and Insights. We worked out a plan for some of the work that was up and coming.

I then had a catch up with Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement about my speech as part of the Northern Ireland Manifesto launch in Belfast on Tuesday. 

Sally Hayes, Director of Students and Liz Marr, PVC-Students, met with me next. We had a conversation about some ongoing issues and discussed the new teaching and learning plan. 

Gabby Cull, Head of Executive Support and Staff Welfare, and I met to discuss the next two student leadership team meetings, which will take me up to the end of my term. 

I also had a meeting with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Student’s team where we talked about the Student Charter, responses to various consultations and continuing representation within the university, amongst other things. 

Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager, and I had our first catch up of the week. We discussed progress on the 50th and also the student-led projects team. 


I left my house at 4.30 am to travel from Bristol to Belfast for the launch of the Northern Ireland Manifesto. I felt really privileged to be asked to say a few words and have the opportunity to go to Stormont! It is such a beautiful building, inside and out, in stunning grounds that are open to the public!! I have written about this in a separate blog. I did however manage to catch up on my favourite podcast on the planes, one of which was a plane called the A321 neo that my husband has worked on!! This made me really happy!! It didn’t fall out of the sky, for which my husband was very relieved, in more ways than one!!


My first meeting of the day was with a group from the OU to discuss a confidential complaint that had come in. 

I then met with Heather Bloomer, Head of DigiComms where we discussed how timely, accurate and appropriate comms is everyone’s responsibility! We are all responsible for creating the content and it is the DigiComms team’s job to support us with it. We also touched a little on some training I had done and the 50th events programme. 

The next meeting was with a new group. Part of the Associations Strategy is around project work and project 10 is creating our ‘Manifesto for Lifelong Learning’. It has been something I have wanted to get off the ground since I stood for President in 2020. I am really excited to see how we get this moving forward, and it was good to start at what we see as the finished product and work back to where we need to start. We will be using the information that we received during our coffee and consultations sessions at Conference. We will be looking at 5 areas; Sustainability, Digital Connectivity, Student Finance, EDI and Flexibility (Thank you Northern Ireland Manifesto!!) 

The 50th podcast team then met to discuss the next steps. 

Next up was a meeting with Liz Marr to discuss the papers that were going to the Vice-Chancellors Executive meeting. There were a lot of confidential papers. We then discussed a couple of papers going to the Senate.

The University has to review its Mental Health Strategy, so I met with Rosalind Hully to discuss the things that we do around mental health. The revaluation will be submitted to Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. 

My next meeting on what was a very busy Wednesday was a demonstration of a digital platform we are looking at called Topia. It has the potential to create a safe space for students to connect with each other and events that we do. It was really interesting and gave lots of food for thought. 

At the 50th Steering Group, we had updates from each of the groups and a website update, achievement video update and an update from the podcast group.


My first meeting of the day was a meeting with Sue MacCabe to talk through the Strategy Performance report that is going to the Student Leadership Team meeting in April. 

I then had a day of training in writing successful funding bids with a view to how we could use this during the 50th project to raise £50,000 for the OU Students Educational Trust.

I had meetings with Allan Musinguzi, Head of Volunteering and Nicky Powell, Senior Volunteer, Training and Wellbeing Officer during my lunch break and I followed up with a meeting with Nicky after my training. We ended up discussing July Student Leadership Team Meeting.

My last meeting of the day was with Reiss where we discussed the week’s progress and reminded ourselves about the report that is being done about Conference for the Student Leadership Team meeting in April.


I am sitting on an interview panel for the policy and public affairs role in our office. 

I am going to be on Annual Leave for a few days next week, back in time for Senate on Wednesday. I have checked the weather and currently, it’s set fair, so fingers crossed!! 

I hope that you have all had a good week and that you’ve managed to keep sane and well!! Have a great weekend, see you on the other side, but until then, Go Well!!! 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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