Don's diary

February 25, 2000

Monday

I look at the deserted offices and remnants of course papers finding it hard to believe that a year ago we were developing courses to build on our strengths.

It is hard to accept the reality of redundant colleagues and the end of a distinguished 30-year-old department. Check last year's commercial income - close to original target, but not enough to save the school.

The legal terms of the Tupe (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) skates over the reality of the closure and the end of our collective intellectual life. The transfer protects terms and conditions but not the individual's job-in-context.

Tuesday

Focus on Quality Assurance Agency work. I feel privileged to gain insights into other institutions. I note many points I could adapt to my own practice.

This reminds me how insular disciplines can be, sharing among themselves but often reluctant to exchange approaches and ideas across subject boundaries. Revisit reading from the course I did on change and quality in higher education and remember the reality of academic allegiance being first to subject and profession and last to the institution.

Must quell this thought and get to grips with paperwork for next week's review.

Wednesday

Asked if I am going to a Thames Valley University meeting. I explain again that although I am at TVU, I am no longer with it.

Realise how important physical identity is in generating a sense of belonging. Modern model for organisations is small headquarters and large pool of associates - QAA? What about peer support?

Thursday

Final session for the undergraduate module I have been teaching. Students ask to video it, saying they know they learn from my sessions but cannot fathom why. Is this a genuine compliment?

I reflect on what part teaching plays in my work and whether the move away from teaching to management was the right one.

Friday

Start by marking an MA dissertation. Depressed that something so far off the mark has been submitted. The student has not understood the area, has failed to organise the work and has not appreciated what is required at this level. How come?

Read debates on QAA's new methodology for subject review in The THES. I am not alone in finding it difficult to grasp exactly how the methodology works.

Saturday

Look through yesterday's job pages. Resolve to review my career direction. Only too easy to let this much-needed task slip by. Write letter appealing against son's special educational needs statement; daughter complaining homework leaves no time for fun. I would love to be at school doing exciting things. She is not impressed. Time to start cooking. Then I had better pack my bags - I am off early on Monday.

Helen Thomas is at the school of education, King's College London. Until August last year she was dean of the school of English language education, Thames Valley Univesity.

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