As part of the Department’s commitment to fostering a culture of equality and inclusivity, innovative new working practices have been introduced.
The Department supports a healthy work-life balance. We encourage the use of flexible working arrangements through a flexible working scheme (requiring a contractual change) or flexi-time scheme (no contractual change needed).
Programme Leader of BA Sociology and Education
I joined the Department of Education as a Lecturer in Education in May 2011. The first of many instances when the Department enabled me some flexibility was permitting me to join the Department on 0.8FTE while I completed my 0.2FTE contract as a member of the Forensic Psychology Team in the Department of Psychology.
I increased my hours to 1.0FTE in the Department from August 2011 and enjoyed being Programme Leader for the BA programme in Educational Studies (as it was then called). I became Director of Undergraduate Studies in 2013. The following year, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I requested a reduction in my contracted hours to 0.8FTE, to enable me to care for my mother with my sisters. In view of this situation, I requested to be relieved of my role as DoUG, which was accommodated with immediate effect. The following year, my father was also diagnosed with terminal cancer and I asked to reduce my hours further to 0.6FTE so that I could share the caring of both parents. The Department was exemplary in allowing me to reduce my hours at relatively short notice due to my father’s ill-health. Throughout this period colleagues continued to be supportive and concerned for my wellbeing.
The Department has been enormously supportive as I have sought to juggle work with family commitments. Throughout this challenging period, I was enabled to work from my parents’ house when necessary, at the same time meeting all of my timetabled teaching commitments. The compassionate and understanding support I received from the Department at this difficult time, enabled me to work flexibly and therefore, I did not need to request an extended period of compassionate leave.
Lecturer in Language Education
I joined the department in 2011 as a Teaching Fellow in Language Education, contributing to teaching and supervision on the Masters level programmes. I was also enrolled on a distance part-time PhD in Applied Linguistics, based at a different university.
It was clear from the moment of my arrival in the department that there was a strong ethos of support for new and existing members of staff. I was immediately appointed a mentor (Director of Graduate Studies) who was an invaluable source for advice and a person to turn to help guide me through the complex workings of the department and the university as a whole.
It was my ambition to develop as a lecturer with a focus on teaching and scholarship, as well as developing my skills in programme leadership. After discussing this with the Head of Department and the Deputy of Gradiate Studies, in 2013, I was given the opportunity to take on a deputy role assisting the Programme Leader of the MA TESOL with the day-to-day running of the programme. This is the largest MA programme in the department and was a useful introduction to programme leadership by getting an insider’s view. This followed, in 2014, with the opportunity to build on this experience by taking on the much larger role of Director of Taught Masters Programmes (Teaching and Learning) and, as such, I now oversee all the teaching and supervision provision at Masters level. These roles were instrumental in my successful application for promotion to Lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship) in 2016, and subsequently, in the same year, my accreditation as Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (an important benchmark for future promotion to Senior Lecturer on the Teaching and Scholarship track) and my place as a member of the University Teaching Committee, the most important university committee dedicated to promoting excellence in teaching and learning and overseeing all programme developments across the university.
The support that I have received has not only focused on developing my programme leadership skills, but also in my scholarship in teaching. In 2016, I applied for and was awarded research leave for three months. I used this to make significant progress with my PhD.
In 2017, I needed to take an extended period of sick and compassionate leave. I was away from work for a period of 14 weeks. The department responded immediately to my needs by re-allocating my work duties, and stopping email correspondence, thereby, giving me the space and time I needed to recover. I was also allowed to return to work on a phased-return basis, beginning with two days per week, for two weeks, and increasing to three days per week, for four weeks (working full-time, thereafter). I am currently in the second part of the phased-return and have regular meetings with the Head of Department to review the situation and make any adjustments as necessary. I have felt fully supported throughout this process, with my mental wellbeing being of paramount importance. I have found it invaluable in helping me readjust from what has been, and continues to be, a difficult emotional period.