CoronavirusStaff update: 15 October

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this finds you and yours well. If you have been off, or are planning for the schools’ half-term holiday, I hope you will be returning refreshed after a well-deserved break.

The ongoing uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has posed significant challenges for us all, both personally and professionally. But a hallmark of the Strathclyde response has been our resilience and the ‘can-do’ attitude of colleagues in every area of the University; a mindset that is helping us to maintain our momentum, and continue to make a positive impact on our students, our city and the partners we work with.

The roll out of our new agile working tool kit this week is a great example of this ‘can-do’ approach in action. While we had already been moving towards agile working prior to the pandemic, we have accelerated the programme following our experience of the lockdown that began in March. The toolkit will provide further opportunities for staff to work at times – and from locations – that work for them and their roles, within clearly set parameters.

Our Strathclyde People Strategy places staff at the heart of our plans and recognises that their collective talents, effort and commitment will deliver the University’s ambitious Vision for 2025. I am delighted we are taking this important step to increase flexibility for many colleagues to work in ways that support their wellbeing, help them manage their work life balance, allow them to continue their important contributions, and increase efficiency.

The toolkit is designed to help staff and managers understand what agile working is, what working arrangements may be available, and how to make agile working successful for both staff and the University.

While we recognise that current Covid-19 restrictions mean some teams are limited in the extent to which they can adopt agile working, many of the principles can be adopted now, and the toolkit will support planning for how teams might work in the future when restrictions are eased.

A series of briefing sessions will be held via Zoom webinars to help line managers understand how agile working might apply in their areas. Colleagues can also read more about the concept, and about the experiences of colleagues who are already working in an agile way, in Monday’s Inside Strathclyde.

When I wrote to you last week, I updated you on the latest Scottish Government guidance for the sector, which outlined that universities and colleges will remain open with blended learning in place. We are continuing to monitor and assess the situation carefully on a daily basis. 

I am pleased to tell you that this week, following detailed risk assessment, the Executive Team has agreed for our Technical Education and Physical Education Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) students to take part in on-campus activities after the October break.

This important step will allow our students to meet the essential requirements of schools for on-campus activity and preparation ahead of their placements. Our PGDE students were the first to experience online learning, designed to support them before moving to a blended approach, and I’m delighted by the way students and staff have worked together.

We will continue to assess the situation and I will update you on further blended learning developments next week. 

Finally, a date for your diaries. On 3 November, we will mark the official awarding of University degrees with Conferment Day, when we will welcome our graduating students into our alumni family.

As we have stressed, the health, safety and wellbeing of the Strathclyde community remains at the heart of everything we do, and in line with government advice, we have postponed November’s formal graduation ceremonies. However, we have written to students with details of how they can access their degree certificates on the day. We will be encouraging students to share their success stories with us on social media and, in due course, we look forward to welcoming them to participate in a traditional graduation ceremony in the Barony Hall.

Despite all the challenges the global pandemic has created over the last six months, the Class of 2020 has shown great determination and resilience. I have no doubt they will carry the Strathclyde ‘can-do’ attitude with them into their chosen careers as they make a positive impact on the world around them.

Best wishes,
Jim