As we enter December, this always feels like a time of the year when the University community look forward to a well-deserved rest over the winter break to spend time with friends or family. However, I am also conscious this can be a time of increasing stress for taught students as pre-break assessment deadlines hit, and they start to prepare for exams in January. Reassuringly there is lots of support available across the University and especially from the Skills Centre.
Last month I visited the Skills Centre’s ‘Skills Zone’ in 6E 2.8 during a Monday lunchtime. This is the first time I have physically been to the Skills Zone, and I was delighted to see how lively and welcoming it was. It was really busy with a number of students (individually and in small groups) working with members of the Skills Centre team.
The range of support available for students is amazing, from MASH (Maths and Statistics Help) and writing drop-in sessions, to bookable writing skills tutorials, to self-access resources. A number of these can be accessed online but the skills zone itself provides a really valuable in-person resource for all students.
I spoke to a PGT student who had come to the Skills Zone that lunchtime to get some writing support. She had been referred by an academic in her department and this was the second time she had visited. She told me that the support she was able to get was fantastic and really complimented the support she received from within her department.
I also spoke with colleagues from the centre who are all very passionate about providing the right support for our students. They highlighted four key resources:
- MySkills – the portal for students to find and book the right skills development opportunities for them
- ‘Engaging with Feedback’ interactive resource - the latest in a series of quick self-access resources for students which helps students to critically engage with tutor feedback
- The Skills Enrichment programme – a range of academic skills sessions to help students get the most out of their studies.
- Support to help students prepare effectively for Semester 1 exams - live online / in-person workshops in weeks 9 to 11 (28 November to 15 December 2022)
In addition to all the resources that students can access themselves, colleagues within the centre are also able (and keen!) to provide specific provision for academic courses through collaboration so academic colleagues should get in touch if they feel their courses would benefit from such input.
Both students and staff can really benefit from the fantastic support and resources which the Skills Centre offers, and the Skills Zone is a really great place to start.
If I had one recommendation for personal tutors, and in fact any colleagues who support students at this time, it would be to check in on them to see how they are coping and ensure they are aware of all the extra academic support available to them from outside their department. This could help relieve some of the concerns they have but also ease the pressure on you at this busy time.