1 Jun 2020

sparqs' new work plans

sparqs is concentrating on supporting the sector to put the student voice at the centre of decision making in the months ahead, as everyone responds to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

We are supporting institutions to put in place measures that will ensure the systems of representation we value so greatly in Scotland, continue to be able to operate despite the disruption, particularly in online and blended environments. It is essential that as colleges and universities prepare for the new academic year, all reps (from course reps to sabbatical officers) can play a central role in shaping the changes to the Student Learning Experience.

At the heart of all our support will be two key themes:

  • Ensuring the diversity of the student voice is heard when decisions are taken; and
  • Supporting students to shape changes to learning in a way that supports student wellbeing and mental health.

Following approval at the sparqs’ Joint Advisory Group meeting on 6th May, sparqs’ work plans have been readjusted to focus on a smaller number of key projects that meet the needs of the sector at this time.

We will deliver in nine key areas:

  • Key messages on the importance of student voice in decision making at senior level.
  • Direct communications for course reps.
  • Operating and supporting course rep systems.
  • Course Rep Training.
  • Officer induction and support.
  • Effect on the Student Learning Experience.
  • Institutional Support.
  • Quality arrangements and sector support.
  • Networks and Advisory groups.

Key activities in these areas are already taking shape. A direct communication aimed at current course reps was issued via students’ associations in mid-May, and services such as Course Rep Training and our summer training programme have been adapted to ensure we can deliver a high level of support to students in an online environment. 

In addition, our That’s Quality! events for new and returning officers (and those who support them) are now open for registration, and resources to support the induction of education officers have also been published, both of which are featured in other news articles alongside this one.  Plans are also underway for further meetings of our networks for staff (SESN) and officers (NEON). Usually running three times each year, during the crisis we will also be holding shorter, online catch-ups, the first meetings of which are open to join, as detailed in our separate article on the networks.

Please check the COVID-19 section of our website regularly for new updates. We will be circulating resources as and when they are published.

Our system of institutional contacts, networks and advisory groups will continue to shape our support and ensure resources get to those who need them in a timely manner.

Where institutions are facing particular challenges, they are strongly urged to get in touch. Our priority is giving you the support you need to ensure rep systems are in place and able to deliver student views. If you need additional support to do this, please let us know.

Our Joint Advisory Group will meet again on 16th September, to help us review progress and adjust our plans where necessary. In the meantime, please contact Eve Lewis, Director, if there is any aspect of our work you would like to discuss – eve.lewis@sparqs.ac.uk

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