So what happened to March?

It seemed to fly by and I have no idea where it went. The last time I posted it was all about struggling to pull together the proosal for the new academic calendar (that’s been to ASPC, LTC and Senate and been approved), the impending academic review (we’ve had the panel meetings and are waiting for the report) and the BCS accreditation visit (which went well and we await the written feedback).  And of course the City Park opened, which whatever you think about it has transformed the city centre and it’s a joy to see so many people out there enjoying the recent good weather.

If that’s not enough for one month, we’ve had the opening of the excellent Life Online gallery and TedX Bradford at the NMeM, another BBC RAC meeting, and Spurs have gone from Champions’ League certainties to Europa League hopefuls and back again.

In the middle of all this, we’ve moved offices. As you may know, I was in a shared space with the staff support team in the basement of Horton D (hence the original title of this blog). With the reclading of the building (which has gone very smoothly and looks great), we had to find temporary accomodation for the Student Support Office. This gave us an opportunity to rethink how we use our space. The position of the recruitment office was far from ideal (up some stairs and along a corridor), especially given the amount of traffic on applicant visit days. Given where we were located, i.e. in the ‘basement’ which of course is actually at ground level (don’t ask, it’s one of the challenges of labelling floors in buildings that are built on hillsides) and so had easy access, it made sense to use this forced temporary move to use that space more effectively. Hence the Recruitment Office is now using that, both as office space and to hold receptions and recruitment events. We’ve now moved to the fifth floor. So time to rename the blog. The Student Support Office is temporarily where Recruitment were, and when they move back we’ll continue to use that space for supporting our partnership work (someting that was originally located with us in the basement).

As with all these things, the disruption is substantial, but the move seems to have gone very smoothly with all parties happy with their new space. Which is something that is often tricky to achieve. So thanks to all involved, both in terms of those moving and the tech support team that made it happen, for such a slick operation.

As well as the cladding operation, those of you who used the small entrance door facing the Richmond Building will have seen our new ‘porch’ being constructed. The ‘official’ entrance to Horton D is round the back up the curved steps facing the Chesham Building. No doubt this fitting perfectly in the architect’s vision at the time, but now that we get a lot of traffice to and from the Richmond Building, and in these days of more awareness of access for those with mobility problems, it really didn’t make sense. Now the building work is complete we need to populate that space to make it more interesting, which will hopefully happen over the next few months.

Besides hoping that the warmer weather will drive away any more snow, there’s much to look forward to in April. The Bradford International Film Festival has a superb line up this year, with a wide variety from the obscure masterpieces to classic cartoons. If you’re in Bradford while it’s on, there really is no excuse not to pop along to something. There’s another ACE meeting, which are always interesting and lively. And of course there’s the usual day-to-day expected and unexpected challenges.

I expect come May I’ll be looking back asking ‘what happened to April’?!

It looks like you’re trying to create a new academic calendar…

It’s been so long since I put anything on here, I don’t expect many people will still be reading. However, one of the proposals at the last ‘BOG’ (that’s the Bradford Offer Group in case you don’t know, I still get strange looks when I say “I’m off to the BOG”) was that we should improve communications by keeping a blog of what we’re doing. So until something else gets written I thought I bring this out from its state of suspended animation.

As the title suggests, I’ve been tasked with looking at the structure of the academic year, something Nigel Lindsey did a huge amount of work on previously. As Nigel found out, this is quiet a challenge to say the least (hence the title, I’m hoping a friendly paperclip will pop up with some suggestions). The Bradford Offer made a number of proposals about all sorts of things, but one was about a change in the structure of the year. To cut a long story short, the main points were around seeing if we could start the year later (to give more time for preparation and for students to get here) and to fit in supplementary assessments in before the end of July (mainly to allow students to plan better for September). Clearly, starting later and ending sooner are not necessarily compatible aims!

The biggest issue with this is the ‘crunch’ time between the end of the first assessments and the start of the supplementaries. Work needs to be marked, checked, the marks entered on the system, formally ‘approved’, then taken to exam boards to make decisions on the individual students.  This, together with the sheer volume of examinations that we have, makes it quite a challenge.

Of course, other institutions mange to do this, and claim that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and although there’s some ‘pain’ in moving from one model to another, they are very adamant that they are in a better place now than before.

So work goes on. There’s a target of having a revised proposal to got to ASPC/Senate in the new year. How exact we can be about the impact and resources needed to do this remains to be seen as there’s the small issue of the Christmas break between now and then, but we’ll do our best.