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School Leadership Team Meeting Summary

December 2020

The December SLT marked the first bi-monthly meeting that focused on addressing the School Priorities. The SLT have split into two groups to address Size and Shape of the School (led by Chris Hardacre) and Financial Sustainability (led by Sam Ryder). It was agreed that in order to address Size and Shape the team will work on acquiring data required to make judgement. The Financial Sustainability group are to look at the budget with a view of identifying essential spend as planning starts to take place for the next financial year.

This month’s Health and Safety update was from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences where they reported that their risk assessments for field work are to be carried out with an Undergraduate representative to allow additional input and engagement. It was noted that the near miss reporting process is being revised to further improve practice. It was also noted that mosquito protection on field trips is an area they need to further improve risk assessments and practice.

Finally the SLT revisited the area of Environmental Sustainability where Laurence Stamford gave an overview of the Our Future Strategic Plan. A discussion was had on addressing work-related air travel and it was suggested that Academics from Departments are involved in these discussion. The SLT were pleased to hear that a guidance on environmental sustainability statements is being developed which will be useful for staff writing grants for Research Councils.

Staff are reminded to complete the new Information Security & Data Protection training hosted by Metacompliance that can be found on the following Information Governance Office StaffNet page

November 2020

At the SLT meeting this month the team had an in-depth discussion on the School priorities. The SLT have mapped strategic areas on to each priority which will be addressed either short term (3 – 6 months) or long term (up to 1 year). It was agreed that the SLT will focus on the following areas in the coming months:

  • Size and Shape of the School
  • Financial Sustainability

An in-depth discussion was had focussing on the approach to address the issues with size and shape following the FLT Away Day that took place on the 20th November.

Kevin Jackson and Chris Muryn, Head of Research, Infrastructure and Facilities, gave an over view on the Technical Review.  A page on Staff Net has been created to find out about the latest updates which can be found here.

Steve Olivier, Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience gave an update on the Student Experience Project (SEP) and was pleased to inform that the following projects had been launched; My Manchester Student Platform; Togetherall; my Financials. Campus 9.2 has also been rolled out for the admissions process in October 2020.

This month’s Health and Safety update was from the Department of Chemistry where they reported a fire incident resulting in Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service attending the Chemistry Building 15th September. A health and Safety Report is currently underway.  

October 2020

At the SLT meeting at the end of this month, the team devoted a large amount of time discussing the activities that are on-going in the Teaching and Learning teams. Andrew Horn, Head of Education, reported that SEAPS (Student Experience Action Plans) are in progress and planning has commenced for teaching and timetabling in Semester 2 and further updates about this will be released as soon as possible. A survey is underway for Teaching Equipment Requirements in Semester 2 and the deadline to complete is Wednesday 4th November. The Heads of Departments reported that Tier 3 Teaching is going well in each Department.

Laurence Stamford, Head of Environmental Sustainability, gave the SLT an overview of the Faculties commitment to the Environmental Sustainability. There are three principles including Carbon Reduction, Incorporating sustainability into teaching and Travel and the SLT look forward to working with Laurence on addressing these issues within the Schools processes, teaching and research. For more information on the Environmental Sustainability see here

This month the School of Natural Sciences SLT took part in a joint away day with the School of Engineering.  A good discussion about the roles and responsibilities of the Teaching College and the Schools/Departments was undertaken and a number of clear actions set to improve the communication of these.  In addition, discussions were held on leading in times of uncertainty and how long and short term decision making can be undertaken in this environment.  Finally, the SLTs explored the wellbeing challenges and how these can be addressed.  The learnings from these discussions will be fed into the SLT future action plan.

September 2020

This month Giles Johnson, Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion & Accessibility gave the SLT an overview of Widening Participation in the School of Natural Sciences. A discussion was had on ways that the School can work to address the differences between performances of the Widening Participation students versus non-Widening Participation students and ways the School can increase the ratio of quantile 5 (prosperous students) versus quantile 1 (students from poorest backgrounds) in order to meet the Universities target of 3:1 by 2025. Consideration was also made to improve the attainment gap for widening participation students. A range of ideas were discussed and the Heads of Departments are to work with the Discipline Head of Educations in order to address this.

Becki Harrington, Recruitment and Admissions Team Leader, gave an update on the recruitment and admissions restructure and bridging structure that is to be introduced, the Transition planning will commence from the 1 October. 2020

Work is underway as part of campus reopening to facilitate self-study spaces across the Faculty for students.

It was confirmed that procurement requests on Oracle for R Codes will no longer require SLT approval if the staff member is on the Research Register. All non-R coded procurement requests however need to follow the procurement policy and procedure which involves a School approval process, first introduced in April 2020. Staff should contact the Deputy School Operations Manager for clarification.

And finally it was announced that Oliver Jensen, Head of Department Mathematics and Sean Freeman, Head of Department of Physics and Astronomy will be stepping down as Head of Department from March 2021. Chris Hardare thanked them both for their hard work, support and leadership during their time as HoDs.

August 2020

This month Chris Hardacre thanked the Recruitment and Admissions team and Academics for all of the work over this busy month which has been challenging due to the pandemic and last minute changes to the Government’s student number caps and a level assessment.

Andrew Horn, Head of Education, informed the SLT that transition to blended learning workshops are taking place for Academics to help prepare for teaching in semester 1 and equipment for teaching is being provided where required.

Chris Hardacre confirmed that all of the buildings in FSE are open and are now occupied. The results of the Wellbeing survey will be worked through to allow return to campus.

Kevin Taylor, Head of Research, is the research travel approver for the School of Natural Sciences and queries or requests should be sent to him directly.

Benita Jackson, HR Partner, informed the SLT that StaffNet is constantly being updated with HR Q&A’s and encouraged staff to visit the pages. Minutes from meetings with Campus Trade Unions are to be published weekly on StaffNet.

July 2020

This month it was highlighted the excellent work from PS staff and Academics on the delivery of teaching, collating the assessment information together and student graduation which has now concluded and has been successful. The Faculty Exam Board took place this month which also went well. The Heads of Departments outlined work underway in each Department to promote blended learning and provided an update on the planning and preparation taking place in order to deliver in the next Academic Year.

Sam Ryder provided an overview of the voluntary severance scheme within the Student Experience Programme.

The first School Equality, Diversity, Inclusions and Accessibility (EDIA) meeting took place this month and we are currently looking at what support will be put in place to write the next Athena Swan Submission.

Oliver Jensen was delighted to announce that the Department of Maths was second in the UK for NSS.  

Campus reopening progress is going well and Chris thanked all staff who are working hard to ensure the safe reopening of buildings. It was confirmed that a ‘Person in a Van’ has been established in order to transport samples around campus.  Finally it was highlighted that there is a new manager’s guidance on supporting people in return to campus available. These support documents are split into Lab workspaces and Non-lab workspaces.

June 2020

This month Sarah Mitchell, Admissions and Intake team leader, provided the SLT with an overview of the current UG, PGT and PGR student numbers. Due to the pandemic the University is looking at potential reductions as 10% home students, 20% EU students and 50% overseas students.  There are a number of activities on going to help mitigate this including a virtual open week that took place this month which was well attended.

Giles Johnson, Head of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) proposed a structure for a School EDIA Committee and a discussion was had on the membership and how this will be implemented across the School and Departments in order to share best practice.

Kevin Taylor, Head of Research, highlighted the PGR Forums and PDRA Forums are due to take place this month and there are a number of new training opportunities available for these communities. It was also confirmed that the deadline to submit paperwork to REF have been confirmed as 31st March 2021 but this will be reviewed in November should there be any other changes to the COVID-19 situation.

The SLT were informed of a number of Task and Finish Groups that have been established including ‘New Ways of Working’ that will look at ideas to drive more efficiencies on our processes.

May 2020

At the May meeting Andy Weightman, Associate Dean for Teaching Academy, provided an update on the strategies and activities to transition to blended learning for September 2020. The plan of what Blended Learning might look was outlined including virtual synchronous and asynchronous activities. Blended Learning open meetings will be arranged for each Discipline to support colleagues in facilitating these activities.  

Progress on campus reopening is going well and staff are encouraged to look at the StaffNet site for updates over the coming weeks. In FSE, parts of the MIB Building and parts of Jodrell Bank have been identified to open in the first phase, in line with social distancing measures.

The SLT would like to look at ways that they can enhance career prospects for PDRA’s across the School by offering teaching opportunities to enhance their CV’s. Work is currently on-going to implement this.  

Finally, we would like to congratulate Sophie Nixon, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences who has been appointed as the DKOF for the School of Natural Science following interviews that took place this month.

April 2020

At the April meeting there was a strong focus on the student recruitment and conversion plan to mitigate the potential impact of reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zabina Kosar-Ahmed, Student Marketing & Recruitment Manager and Sarah Mitchell, Recruitment and Admissions leader provided an update on new marketing programme campaigns and innovative communication methods with offer holders including online webinars, online recruitment events and Head of Department video messages.  Zhongdong Wang provided an update on the impact of activity on internationalization and effects COVID-19 could have on acceptance offers. The Head of Research Infrastructure and Facilities posts have been confirmed as Kevin Jackson, Chris Muryn and Craig Hopper. The Faculty Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Fellowships interviews are taking place on 7th May 2020.  The wellbeing of staff is a priority for the team this month particularly those who are currently on furlough leave. Sarah Teagle, Learning and Development Partner, provided guidance on working remotely and the importance of communication channels in teams.

March 2020

At the March meeting the discussions were focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the University. There has been an unprecedented positive response in relation to providing help associated with the COVID-19 crisis from across the School.  It was noted that all staff recruitment and extensions, including PDRA’s and 100% funded research posts, will need to obtain School and Faculty approval. In addition, all procurement requests will need to be approved by the Faculty.  A critical access list has been created in response to the campus closure outlining a small number of staff who can access campus during this time.  Benita Jackson, HR Partner reiterated that we should continue to take annual leave during this period of working from home and as usual only 5 days will be able to be carried over into the next holiday year. The change to remote teaching and learning has been successful. A large number of degree programmes have, or will have at the end of Semester 2, at least 75 credits out of 120 credits for graduating cohorts secured from Semester 1 and from Semester 2 and year-long coursework and projects, and so can be graduated under the Mitigating Circumstances rules.

February 2020

The School is currently in the middle of the budgeting cycle and Departments have been working hard to support this activity including reviewing proposed spending and what would be held at School and Department levels. There is a School budget challenge meeting next week with the Dean to review the school budget and the 5-year plan. The School Leadership Team discussed the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis. The team explored the impact of business as usual in relation to the change projects currently taking place. Post Contract Management (PCM) Training by HR Services will be taking place this month for PS staff to address the level of details required on the form. In addition, Helen Taylor updated the team about the roll out of research project meetings with Principal Investigators at the beginning of research grants which will be implemented immediately by research finance.  The health and safety report this month was from Department of Physics and Astronomy where they reported that Darren Graham has done great work on laser safety.  

January 2020

January’s SLT had a strong focus on the student number planning cycle and the budget setting for 2020/21 and beyond.  In addition, Elaine Ferneley provided an update on University of Manchester Worldwide and the opportunities for Distance and Blended learning courses to diversify our education portfolio. For the upcoming round of Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Fellowships, a targeted approach was agreed for the School of Natural Sciences focussing on applicants in Maths primarily in the statistics area and sustainable materials as a faculty wide priority.

December 2019

Many thanks to all staff for contributing to the change to the new School structure which has gone smoothly and for giving us feedback on activities throughout the first semester.  The December School of Natural Sciences Senior Leadership Team discussed a range of topics including the budgeting process and student number planning, internationalisation, opportunities in research, teaching and learning and student experience and social responsibility in addition to updates on the technical review, admissions data and the financial position of the School.

New initiatives have been launched to encourage cross Departmental and cross School research activities, and information about pump-priming funds has been sent out to staff, and staff are encouraged to get involved. In addition, there will be a pilot scheme for joint research projects at MSc level this year led by Andrew Horn and Peter Green and involving both the School of Natural Sciences and School of Engineering. 

We have funded some scoping work to be undertaken for the development of the Botanical Gardens as part of our Social Responsibility agenda through the School and are developing ideas for wellbeing activities led by Sam Ryder.  There is ongoing work on the probation criteria for new members of academic staff which will be communicated to all staff once it has been agreed.  Due to the financial pressures, we have been discussing how best to address these through our student number planning process including the balance between overseas and home students and also the number of PGT and UG students.  These discussions have included the impact of staffing and student quality.  As part of this of internationalisation activities have been examined and how we best develop these in the future.  We are planning to undertake a visit to China together with the School of Engineering in early 2020 to develop our links as well as expanding our interactions with India following the UoM visit in November.