What’s new at your regional network?

by Rossana Espinoza 0

The SDF council meeting took place in June and as part of this meeting each region was given the opportunity to share the activity that’s been taking place in their region.

Take a look below to find out what’s new in your region and when your next regional meeting will take place.

Sara Mills – Organisation and Staff Development (OSD) – Cymru   

The Welsh network includes all 8 Universities in Wales. the network has been going through a review; a meeting held last month was the first since 2019.

There has been significant changes in membership and a number of roles. Meeting was an opportunity to take a fresh look at the network and reflect on what we thought the purpose of the network was, what it was for and how we’d like to use the space as a benefit for us as individuals as well as the organisation.

The network feels ‘new’ again as 50% of people are new. Virtual ways of meeting are more beneficial as travelling all over Wales previously was challenging. Agreed to meet 3 times a year and the next meeting is set for October.


Jessie Monck & Julie Stock – Eastern Region Forum for Staff and Education Developers

The Eastern Region Forum has 9 universities. The SDF regional chairs have been re-establishing the network after not having any meetings for various reasons, including COVID. Lots of enthusiasm and people are excited to be hearing from us.

Last meeting was held in March, which was reported at the last Council meeting. Getting ready for the next meeting which is in July at the usual 3 hour length, with a guest external speaker, CPD solution focused approaches that can be taken away to use in the network.

Originally scheduled 3 meetings a year with the last one in November, but have been having a think about it and have put forward a proposal to meet twice a term instead, for a shorter time. Very much open for discussion at this stage.

Virtual meetings are working well for them as geography and getting around East Anglia is sometimes tricky, although planning to meet face to face in the Summer.

While Jess & Julie have been coming up with ideas, the group needs to take ownership for the network. Next meeting agenda includes time to discuss the proposals, get feedback on how people want to engage, frequency, what would they like to see, what activities do they want to do. General consensus is that people would like to meet face to face again at some point, but for new we are going remote, there is still some nervousness about meeting in person


Ian Whiting – Midlands Staff Development Partnership

Next meeting is in July. Agenda was kept simple and have guest speaker, Sandy Spark, who used to be at Warwick. She is now a technical training manager for Midlands Innovation talent programme, a set up of 8 universities in the Midlands. Another member, Beth Lloyd, also wants to talk about how gamification doesn’t always need to be digital. The network has secured speakers, plus round-robins and top of mind also.

Hoping to be back face to face for December meeting at the usual venue, Birmingham University. Hoping to speak to Frank Jordan again to arrange to visit Waterside Campus, where there are no lecture theatres. Will be an interesting visit to see how the campus works and how it’s been since they moved the whole University there.


Tracy Ellis and John Trantom – North West Staff Developers’ Group

Last meeting took place in February, with 4 key agenda items. Northwest Coaches forum has about 60 members. Included a couple of guest speakers from the European Mentoring & Coaching Council.

The network had a meeting in June, where about 25 members attended. Looking at Northwest Action Learning Programme, who were set to meet in April, May & June with the last one in July.

The network is also involved in the Northern Cross Institutional Mentoring Programme for researchers, a great initiative with Lancaster, Liverpool, Salford, Huddersfield & Manchester Met. 

Main focus of discussions is also hybrid working. Hosting the Festival in November so involved in discussions around that. Planned in for 4 dates for meetings, not the usual 3. Next meeting is in July, but already lots of apologies due to other work, annual leave etc.


Chris Pickard – North East & Yorkshire Staff Development Forum

The network met last week, for a 90 minute virtual session and only 10 colleagues attended, although still 7 Universities represented, so a good representation out of the 16 in the network.

Durham University did their case study on the conversation compass. Lots of discussions about how we’re supporting conversations around return to work, hybrid working. Michael Parker attended to give an AHE update. The session was recorded, and will be added to the webpage for our region so anyone can access.

Engagement has generally increased apart from the last week, mainly because of how busy everyone is. Has been 12 universities represented at one meeting, 11 at another meeting so getting good representation. General consensus for meetings going forward is to keep 3 virtual and maybe one face to face each year. Won’t be for a while, but something to bear in mind.

Expression of interest for a Co-Chair has also been sent out. Regional active learning dates are now set, running from October to February. These will run fully virtually. 7 universities involved, with 5 female participants for each university. Worked well in the past face to face, so interesting to see how they run virtually.


Lorna Prince and Linda Anderson- Organisation and Staff Development (OSD) – Scotland

Scotland region has 19 HEIs. Advance HE Scotland always makes a point of attending each meeting.  The network has been around for a while, so well established and has evolved over the years. Have a ‘core’ group of people who regularly attend. Co-Chair is Lisa Anderson from Dundee.

Pre-Covid met 3 times a year for a full day, which included a business meeting in the morning and a development session in the afternoon. Last March changed to 90 minutes virtually, held monthly. Radical approach with no minutes or agendas. At the start of the session people were invited to populate the chat bar with topics they wanted to talk about, which then sets the agenda. Session is recorded so anyone can look at the details later.

Regular topics for discussion include leadership development, agile hybrid working, well-being, engagement & women’s development. Doing a project on collaborative working around women-focused development, have included a survey which was presented back to the community at the last meeting. Also find that the social engagement has also moved into virtual. No plans to physically get together until next year at the earliest. May look at a social meet in Spring 2022. Meetings have now finished and re-start in September, but discussion and chat will continue on an informal basis.


Simon Inger on behalf of Clive Betts – South Wales and South West Developers

Last regional meeting was in April, joined together with the Southwest Employee Engagement Network. The morning session started with Jazz Up Your Day, meeting had a Jazz theme and a jam session around future ways of working. AUA administrators also gave some information about their latest activities. After lunch was more of an SDF/L&D regional catch up. Has been some work done on cleansing the database of contacts too. No date yet set for the next regional meeting.