Sunday, 19 September 2010

Good bye Burt Bacharach, Sitting at the Rectors Table, and the NMC Standards, Transformed

Since writing last week’s blog I have travelled some 1941 miles on University business (Helsinki –Tallin-Helsinki-Copanhagen-Manchester-London-Manchester-Manchester-Newcastle- Manchester). It has been a week where trains, boats and planes have lost their appeal. And for me, Burt Bacharach never had any appeal. However, as they say, it was worth it.

As part of this week’s travels, I went to the Imperial College London. I was there to support one of my colleagues, Denise Megson, who was presenting her work as part of the Stellar HE Leadership Programme. This is a strategic executive development programme for Diverse Leaders (BME) in Higher Education. It has been designed specifically to develop and implement leadership strategies that reflect the unique challenges and experiences of black and minority ethnic academic and professional staff across the whole of the University sector. Stellar HE is a unique leadership development programme that draws on 21st century leadership approaches and thinking to further leverage the effectiveness of Diverse Leaders. The programme aims to address issues of institutional race discrimination, level the career playing field, and provide equal access to promotion, professional development, and increased retention of talented staff. Denise was there presenting their work alongside academics from eight other Universities – Greenwich, Imperial College, Leeds Metropolitan, Loughborough, Oxford,  Bradford, Cardiff and Glasgow. Denise presented her work well and was a great ambassador for the School.

The meeting was held at the impressive 170 Queen's Gate (the Imperial College Rectors House). This magnificent building was designed and built in 1889 by Norman Shaw, one of the most important English architects of the 19th century. His work is characterised by an ingenious approach to creating an open plan feel to his buildings. Although he worked mainly on big projects, the country house, and commercial buildings, his designs were adopted on a more modest style, in the mass produced housing of London and Leeds at the start of the 1900s.

On Thursday I was at Northumbria University, in that very privileged role of external examiner at a PhD viva. Whilst the surroundings were not as impressive as those at Imperial, the scale of scholarly work and endeavour was. These opportunities always touch me. Hearing a fellow academic defend their work (and often this is done with such passion), is a special experience, and not one to be undertaken lightly.

At the end of the week we had a School Development Day. Part of the day was a brilliant presentation from my colleague Margaret McAllister, Professor of Nursing, from the University of the Sunshine Coast (what a wonderful place name). She had travelled some 10235 miles since last Sunday to get to Salford. For me it was worth it. Margaret shared with colleagues her experiences in developing transformational learning approaches with and for her pre-registration nursing students. Drawing on some very creative examples from practice, Margaret provided us all with a powerful learning experience.

The timing was spot on as finally, the NMC published the standards and guidance for the new pre-registration nurse education this week. Some 5,000 individuals and organisations across the UK contributed to the development of these long awaited standards. It is these standards, which will provide the foundation for future pre-registration nursing programmes. In our School, Jane Jenkins and Karen Holland have over the last 12 month, led colleagues in developing a framework for our new programme, which we will launch in September 2011. This programme will reflect the new standards. Part of what we heard from Margaret in her presentation, was the importance of developing a ‘language of possibilities’ for our students – whilst we already know of some of the words, it is now up to us to write this particular dictionary.