So far in July…

There is a myth that in the summer months when term finishes and students go home, academics disappear from the university and are not seen again until September. This may be true for some, but it is certainly not my experience of academic life. With fewer teaching commitments and students finishing off pieces of work, there is time to catch up on papers, research projects and draft bids which have been languishing on the ‘to-do’ list. For me, July is a very busy month.

The month started with our fifth annual national continuing professional development conference for social workers. We hosted 300 practitioners for the day to discuss safeguarding vulnerable children and adults in plenary sessions and workshops. From my perspective the day went very smoothly (in contrast to a couple of years earlier when I passed out half way through the day!), but this was largely down to the excellent organisational skills of Julie Smith.

One of the highlights for me was having a conference artist to capture the essence of the day. Rather than having a photographer flashing in front of speakers and putting them off, Jolie Goodman discreetly sketched throughout the day and produced some lovely images. Here’s me kicking the day off…

 … and here’s Eileen Munro talking about her report (whose recommendations the Government have now accepted):

My attempt at tweeting throughout the conference was quite hopeless. To make up for it, we will have the PPTs up on the website soon.

The following day our first-year MSc students presented their research proposals for examination. They’ll be taking them to an ethics committee in the autumn, so this was their chance to practice justifying them and prepare them for submission a few weeks later. They’ve got lots of interesting ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to fruition over the next year.

Our second year students are currently completing their projects and preparing them for submission in early September. There are some interesting findings emerging, which I will discuss in later blogs. In early July I met with students and their supervisors for a final time to check that they are on target for completion on time. In spite of working pretty much full-time and coping with the fall-out from the spending cuts (job losses and service re-configurations), most should submit their thesis on time.

As I have discussed on our Connecting People study blog, we’ve had some really interesting discussions in our focus groups in the past couple of weeks with those who work in and use mental health services about their experiences of connecting with other people. I’m really pleased with how the study is progressing as we launch into phase two in Somerset in August.

The other interesting experience I’ve had in the past few weeks has been to examine a PhD for the first time. It was nice to be on the other side of the table, but I think I was just as nervous as the candidate…

Well, that’s July so far. I’ve been able to complete amendments on a paper that’s been waiting for my attention; I’ve completed a draft of another one; and the second edition of Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Mental Health Social Work was published. So it’s been pretty productive so far. Only a week to go before a couple of weeks break and then I hope to spend the rest of August on some data analysis…


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