Ken Sloan Prize for Administrative Excellence (2018)
Tell us a bit about your role...
I work for ThinkHigher, which is a collaborative project between Coventry and Warwick universities. I am Project Coordinator for UniversityGO!, a programme of events and in-school ambassador sessions for looked-after children in Years 7-9, which culminates to an annual showcase and graduation ceremony. I also work on the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), which aims to raise aspirations of Year 9-13 students who live in areas of low progression to higher education.
Tell us about your award-winning project/work…
I was nominated for the award for my work in the summer of 2017, where 20 students from the UniversityGO! and NCOP projects came to campus one day per week, during the school summer holidays. The students all completed their CREST awards, which is a nationally-recognised certificate for a science project.
Each week they were also given opportunity to tour a different science facility at the university, as well as having lots of fun playing team games and being encouraged to think differently about their future and studying science. The students then presented their projects to their families, university staff and peers at a celebration event.
Having worked previously in Physics department it was my idea to support students doing their CREST awards at the university and I had faith that the students would be interested in trying it out. But it was a ThinkHigher team effort to run the awards and the celebration event, and huge thanks to the departmental staff who showed the students around their facilities and shared their experiences with them, which made it a success.
How does it feel to have won The Ken Sloan Prize for Administrative Excellence award?
It feels great that the hard work of administration staff is being formally recognised. It also means a great deal to me that the work of widening participation is celebrated, as it really makes a difference to young people’s lives. There is so much excellent outreach and widening participation (WP) work going on in the university thanks to passionate, hard-working, resilient people. I’m incredibly proud to be working along side them in the ThinkHigher team.
Why do you think people should get involved with nominating for the University Awards?
Although slightly embarrassing, it does certainly mean a great deal that someone has gone to the effort to nominate you.
The University Awards are a great way for the University to improve and learn from staff initiatives over the year. If you could change one thing at the University, what would it be?
I would like to see more of a culture of truly flexible working and trust in staff to work outside the office environment, wherever possible. There seems to be some disparity between departments. I am incredibly grateful that my manager fully supports truly flexible working in our team, especially as I now have two children under three! It enables me to feel in control of my time, ensure I don’t miss dinner or bath time with my boys and can work again when they are in bed, but also never begrudge working evenings or weekends. As a result, I’m able to be more productive and do more of the work, which I’m really passionate about. It would be great if everyone could have that freedom and not be suspicious of each other, where some are supported and encouraged to work flexibly and others aren’t.
What would you like to say to the person – or people – who nominated you?
Thank you to my ace manager Martin for always supporting us and our ideas. I think the main reason this project in particular was nominated was that he didn’t expect that the students would give up a day of their holiday to work on a science project - but they did, and they created amazing projects. They smashed expectations! So this award really belongs with them - the outstanding students of NCOP and UniversityGO! And the incredible ThinkHigher team, who made it such an enjoyable experience they kept coming back.
It feels great that the hard work of administration staff is being formally recognised. It also means a great deal to me that the work of widening participation is celebrated, as it really makes a difference to young people’s lives.