Yesterday I spent some time catching up with colleagues from other departments - I'm a great believer in networking which to me is essential for team work. Lots of things to talk about, including bringing some colleagues from the Recruitment Equality Objectives Focus group up to speed with the focus group and workshop from last week. The middle of the day was spent seeing a physiotherapist for my injured knee, which was very helpful and very painful in almost equal measures.
Later in the afternoon we had an incident review as one of the changes we'd approved at last week's Change Advisory Board hadn't gone entirely to plan! We use these as learning exercises in the expectation that we can reduce the risk of similar things happening again.
Today began with a meeting between all Heads of Department and the University Executive Board where the main topic for our round table discussion was the recent letter sent by Michael Gove to Ofqual suggesting changes to A levels. In it he asserted that the main purpose of A levels was progression to higher education and that existing A levels were not adequately preparing students for University. He wants closer involvement from HEIs, especially Russell Group Universities to restore credibility to A levels. His suggestion is that new A levels with revised content, assessment and grading are introduced in 2014.
Some lively discussions took place, and there was some agreement on our table that in some areas there's an emphasis on assessment and learning how to pas exams, rather than learning critical and problem solving skills. As someone put it, "Students are being taught to give perfect answers to simple questions. We'd prefer they gave imperfect answers to complex ones.
From then on I was in back to back meetings, including a discussion on a new policy on Research Data Management which three Professional Service departments (us, the Library and Research and Innovation Services) have cooperated on and will be going forward to Research and Innovation Committee next week.