Education officers have a vital role in shaping the learning experience in universities. This is especially the case at a time of dramatic change, as recent years have seen, and therefore support to such officers is a crucial process to which sparqs can contribute.
This means, initially, that induction for such officers requires a clear approach at institutional level, shaped by staff in quality, management and student engagement roles plus of course outgoing education officers. Our COVID-19 briefing note on inducting education officers at a time of enormous change will be of value to universities and students’ associations as they look to equip such officers to engage with a rapidly changing learning environment and decision-making process.
Each summer our annual induction and training event That's Quality! helps officers to understand their role, learn about the wider sector landscape and Quality Enhancement Framework, and meet each other. That’s Quality! is a two-day programme, ordinarily residential, with a pre-event module containing useful background reading, and there is an accompanying Quality Handbook for Universities which explains some key quality terminology as well as some other relevant sector information. The handbook for 2020-21 will be updated in Autumn 2020.
We continue to support education officers throughout their year, for instance through our National Education Officers’ Network (NEON), which provides a forum for learning, sharing and networking. NEON normally meets three times a year, involving sessions highlighting institutional and sector practice, developments in quality arrangements, and consultations on topical issues.
At the end of the year, we also support education officers to reflect on their skills and experiences in the context of what they can bring to the world of work and voluntary governance roles, and have developed an “outduction” resource in conjunction with the College Development Network, Advance HE and the National Union of Students, consisting of a list of opportunities for education officers and a toolkit for staff who support them in their duties and in their personal development.
Education officers also have opportunities to get involved in various activities at the national level, including sector committees, the Enhancement Themes, sparqs’ own University Advisory Group, and the work of national agencies. sparqs’ key contacts will also be in regular touch with education officers and colleagues to discuss our ongoing support on building partnership within institutions.