SPS Hever Away Weekend

Last month SPS hosted the first ever staff and student engagement weekend, to hear your voice and improve our community at SPS. In this post Dr Robert Barker and fourth year Physics student Anthony Quinlan tell us more about the weekend.

Dr Robert Barker is Director of Public Engagement and Communication in SPS. Here he tells us about the purpose of the weekend, and more about what we got up to:

“It was a great pleasure to host the first staff-student weekend last month at Hever. The weekend, which included a number of events such as a team building escape room game and discussions about the School and life at Kent, was designed to open up the lines of communications between staff and students and improve our School community and experience.

“The School and University is entering a period of great change as the political world changes and with it the future of higher education. In SPS, we are focused on providing the very best educational experience whilst ensuring that our students are prepared for future careers. Thus we are reviewing our curriculum and all aspects of student support.

“Such a review requires input from our students; we need to know much more about your experience as students in 2019, not just academically but also how your studies are integrated with the rest of your life.

“The Hever weekend brought together staff and a cross section of students (mostly your representatives and student Society leaders) to open a dialogue to discuss how we can ensure SPS provides both academic and pastoral support for its students and provides the pathway towards future employment.

“However, it also aimed to develop the culture such that you will feel SPS is ‘your home’. Therefore the weekend was the start of a dialogue and journey that we hope ALL OF YOU will participate in.

“Thanks to an enthusiastic and vocal cohort the weekend felt like a big success and we are delighted to have already seen a huge change in attitudes and levels of engagement.

“The weekend has helped open up a two-way dialogue between staff and students and the feedback from those who came along has been resoundingly positive. We now need to, and are already starting to, build on the success and make changes – including how we communicate with students and what extra support students may need.

“But the work isn’t over. We want to hear your views and listen to your suggestions as we embark on our new exciting revision of SPS curriculum and student engagement. Undergraduate students can use the student voice box in the Ingram foyer, while Postgraduate students have their own box in Room 104. You can also use make your voice heard through your dedicated course reps or if you’d like to see me for a chat, my door is always open.”

 

And here’s the view form one of the students who attended the weekend:

“The SPS weekend, perhaps should have been named `a retreat’ as it gave a unique opportunity where staff and students were isolated from the noise of university deadlines, lectures, attendance etc. This allowed for effective two-way communication between two bodies of people who on a daily basis are separate despite sharing similar ideals and passion.

“I have been a student rep for over three years now and I have never seen such active and open discussions on the topics of student support, teaching, assignments and university life as a whole. Often in formal meetings where these topics are discussed regularly, there is a timidness to student participation but not at Hever and it is testament to staff there who did their best to put us at ease. Seeing your lecturer stomp about covered in green paint would make anyone feel comfortable to talk to them about assessment feedback, but this should be the norm (not the green paint part).

 

 

“Through team building activities, eating together, playing together the weekend helped to bridge the gap between student and staff. It was a good first step in building a true SPS community here at Kent, one that reaches all members of the school and …….. SPS truly is leading the way forward at Kent not just in the research carried out but with their active student engagement and openness to listen and change.”