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My Warwick Life: Caroline Jones

Caroline JonesThe My Warwick Life feature gives an insight into staff and students’ lives at Warwick, considering both their work and social life on campus. This week we hear from Dr. Caroline Jones, Associate Tutor in the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

There is no such thing as a typical day but in an nutshell my job involves..

working with schools and early years settings, practitioners, mentors, tutors and support staff to deliver an innovative, part-time Foundation Degree in the evenings. Leading a course that blends academic rigour with professional practice, taught both on campus and in two partnership colleges, is both challenging and rewarding. It's a busy but very interesting role. Engaging with employers from local authorities to the private, voluntary and independent sector, means there is never a dull moment.

I had a really useful meeting recently with..

some colleagues from Taibhah University in Saudi Arabia, who proposed a number of collaborative projects, including consultancy, training, and joint programmes. We're going to have further discussions to see if we can move any of the ideas forward. A group from Taibah came over in June for a four week course as a result of a previous meeting with these colleagues. The idea of taking the Foundation Degree model to an international level is exciting.

It would be useful to work more closely with..

anyone on main campus! Being in the Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) for the last three years and having worked previously for 15 years in the Institute of Education I sometimes feel main campus is another planet. I do 'visit' and think it looks fantastic. I would like my team and my students to feel more included in campus life but it's difficult when we work evenings and weekends.

I recently organised an event to..

celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Foundation Degree in Early Years. Over 60 HE providers attended, with universities and F.E. colleges in all regions being represented. Speakers considered the degree's past, present and future. Networking over lunch resulted in a collaborative proposal to write a series of books, aimed at leaders in the early childhood sector.

At the moment I am really enjoying working on..

a potential research project exploring the contribution of programmes within the CLL to the University Strategy - particularly focusing on widening participation and community involvement. This will enhance my role in terms of gaining a deeper insight into the student experience and the needs/aspirations of mature and lifelong learners. It will also help to disseminate findings which illustrate the impact of studying at Warwick on the learners' professional and personal lives.

I recently learnt..

more about the Teaching Grid. I have used it once but have plans to use it again and to encourage my tutors to develop more innovative practice. It's unfortunate that it's not open regularly in the evenings though. I was inspired by the space and will be using it to organise a rotating debate for and against 'Inclusion' - it beats using the corridor in CLL.

Warwick is really unique because..

the commitment to widening participation, and the impact on the local community is, and always has been, distinctive for me. I was born in Coventry in 1958, and remember the University being built when I was a child. Warwick has always been part of my life, even coming to Westwood for swimming lessons in what seemed then to be a mysterious but awesome place of learning had an impact on me as a child. I returned from studying in Cambridge to complete my M.Ed and Phd at Warwick and then joined the staff. I have never looked back. Warwick is unique to students and staff for its vibrancy and non-judgmental ethos - it is hard to put into words but you can feel it every year at graduation. That's what has made me stay.

The best thing about working at Warwick is..

the support of non-academic administrative staff. When I hear of how limited support is in some other places I am so glad I work here. I like working here because I feel trusted by the Head of Department to carry out my role and have autonomy to make decisions and organise my own time. I am listened to and given opportunities to contribute to the Centre as a whole. I think the Learning and Development Centre is a brilliant staff resource.

If I could change one thing about the University it would be..

the toilets in CLL! When we bring visitors in it's quite embarrassing, especially recently when we had a visit from our External Examiner, not the impression we want to give of Warwick. The student toilets are also well below standards elsewhere in Warwick. On a more serious note, the whole of Westwood site needs a serious upgrade and yet more car parking. This would involve expenditure but given what has been spent elsewhere along Gibbet Hill over the years, I think it's our turn.

I am a regular user of the Sports Centre for..

swimming from time to time, and if I worked on main site would use it a lot more I think. Finding time to get across from Westwood is not easy and neither is car parking. I teach in the evenings and am too tired to come along afterwards. It will be my new year resolution for 2013 to try to use it more regularly.

I recently had a meal at..

Arden Restaurant on Westwood. Comfortable, friendly and very good service. Really liked the Snickers tart. Look forward to the next one.

I usually travel to campus by..

car from Balsall Common. It is a short and pleasant journey but I hate the design of the junction at Cromwell Lane/Westwood Heath Road and have had two accidents in the last four years on the way to work - not my fault I hasten to add.

I am really glad I got involved with..

teaching mature, non-traditional students on a part-time Foundation Degree. Their personal, professional and academic growth never ceases to amaze me. Watching them from the interview and induction to where they are at the end and beyond is fantastic. They juggle work, family life and study to achieve their goal. They do need additional personal and study skills support and often have the most challenging lives but they persevere and when they walk on that stage in their cap and gown they have certainly earned it.

I have used my Warwick learning vouchers to..

learn Greek at the Language Centre for about ten years. I am so glad I give myself this complete escape from my normal workaholic life. It started as a hobby but has resulted in meeting so many different characters over the years. It's certainly a good way to empathise with what it feels like to be a learner. Thanks to these vouchers I am now quite fluent and have learned a lot about Greek life and culture along the way.

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