Newsletter #5 (2013-14) — A new academic year beckons ….

It’s a long time since I wrote a Newsletter for the blog – I had something monthly in mind but then life became too busy and the impetus was lost, ah well ! Anyway, with better intentions to the fore, I’m now thinking about the new academic  year and hoping to post more regularly 🙂

What’s new in the world of our LTE Doctoral Community? The main change is that the School of Education has become the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE), a discipline area within the new School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED). In some ways, little will change – e.g. Education activities will continue to be based in Ellen Wilkinson building; in other ways, change will be gradual – e.g. the acquisition of more study/desk spaces for PGR students in Education to bring us into line with provision elsewhere in SEED; and in others still, change will be prompt – e.g. the new website should be up and running as of now (but I haven’t checked – once this is up we may move this blog across into that space and take the opportunity for a long overdue spring clean), and new staff roles will be in evidence (see below re the DisCo team).

Looking back over 2012-13, this was a year in which storm clouds were heavy on our horizon as the Review of the School of Education (which preceded the creation of the new school) took place. Change is never easy (and for some areas of Education, it was and remains tough). Things looked pretty unsettling and were pretty unsettled for a while. But I never cease to be amazed at how quickly we get accustomed to the new and already the mood seems to be lifting across large swathes of MIE’s activities. This was very evident, for exanple, in the way in which the LTE group handled the newly-introduced PGR Annual Reviews involving Independent Reviewers.

Looking back more positively, 2012-13 saw the graduations of Magdalena De Stefani and Paul Smith – heartfelt congratulations to you both. It also saw LTE PhD alumnus Mariam Attia obtain a post as a development officer for research staff in the Faculty of Humanities – congratulations once again. Eljee Javier and and Lou Harvey both had school-subsidised conference trips to the US (TESOL and AAAL respectively) with Eljee also the recipient of a prestigious David Nunan bursary. Fast coming to fruition is a the production of a book edited by Paul Breen in which quite a few of our community have chapters – I look forward to adding this to my shelves (in 2014?). We were also successful in obtaining two GTRA/Presidential Scholarships (Susan Dawson and Volha Arkhipenka) who will be joining us very shortly along with several other new community members (e.g. Aliya, Min, Rafidah). And all of our Year 1 researchers successfully progressed through the assessed research training phase and are now working towards their Panels. I apologise if I have missed out on anyone’s news by the way. But, even with the above highlights, I hope you will agree that 2012-13 was a good year for our LTE community. Long may this last.

Also, I must also say a big ‘Thank You’ to all those of you who recommended me for the Distinguished Achievement Award which was both a humbling experience but also a chance for us all to take stock at what has been achieved by way of PGR commnity building in our areas over the last few years. It is indeed impressive; well done.

Looking ahead, in the final furlong for submission and viva examination we have: Tanya Halldorsdottir, Lou Harvey, Eljee Javier and Helen Johnstone – have I missed anyone? and Sophia Kariotaki is being viva-ed in October. Let’s keep all our digits crossed for commanding performances by you all 🙂

This new year sees me taking on a new role in SEED, that of a discipline coordinator (or ‘DisCo’) for the PhD Education, part of the PGR committee in SEED. There are five DisCos for Education, two for the PhD, two for the ‘professional’ doctorates (e.g. Ed.D., D.Couns.Psych) and one with an overview on research methods/training. In this role, I have responsibilities for monitoring researcher progression as well as administering the studentships and related teaching and other duties that our PGR community undertake in return for their funding.

I think this post is long enough to re-establish the tradition of updates from me. My very best wishes to you all for a productive and enjoyable 2013-14 season.