My name is Andy. Nobody calls me “And”. Except very occasionally my sister.  And almost never is anyone called a “gradu-and”. Except for an hour or two during a graduation ceremony.

Last week it was my turn, along with several colleagues on the PGCPHE programme and several hundred students at my institution. I was on the podium party and also robed up to receive my handshake and moment in the spotlight, with my SO in the crowd.

Reflection is rightly a big part of a PGCert, and this was another occasion for reflection. Sitting still for an hour or two, watching the students take their turn on stage and applauding each, your mind wanders. How many of these students did I teach research skills, and how did I help them in their studies (if I did)? Does my own experience on the course over two years help me empathise with students any better? How has my career, my life, changed since I was at my own undergraduate ceremony so many years ago?

In many ways, the ceremony has no meaning. You pass the course, you receive your certificate, whether you put on the robes and walk across the stage in front of your family or not. And yet, it does mark the end of a course of study. It does give recognition of effort, and marks the end of a portion of ones life dedicated wholly or partly to study and learning. It is also, for most of the students, a time to look forward – to the next stage in their education or to the start of their career.  to what they will build on what they have learned and the qualification marking it. “And” is a conjunction, a  joining word, and so too is graduation – that brief time of being an “-and”.

Hospital visit

Tomorrow I visit Southampton hospital. Not for treatment – I am running workshops to support the nursing apprenticeship students there and in other trust hospitals. I am looking forward to it. They have different needs from the law students with whom I usually work, and yet there are similarities in their need to get to grips with evidence-based practice and how to find and cite that evidence.

On dancing and trump cards

“Every dancer has a trump card”

Nice post from ballerina Olivia Cowley (she’s so right about Osipova, by the way). And what she says can apply to any adult learners, especially in a professional context. People go into professions where they have a strength, or potential. But unless you’re one of the few Natalia Osipovas of this world you will have other areas where you can develop, and learning requires both playing to your strengths and awareness of need to develop in other aspects of your professional persona and skillset.

Natalia Osipova, by the way. Yes, I  am a fan.





I recently took possession of “Gaslands: Refuelled”, the revised and expanded version of the cult post-apocalyptic wargame (and excuse to play around with toy cars). I have played it at my library games club before, but with only basic rules. I set up a game using some of the new content, a one-vs-many scenario, where the others were attacking my war rig and its defenders. The game built on their existing knowledge and consolidated that, while introducing newer elements incrementally. By the end of the session, they were more comfortable with advanced rules and options, and looking at how they might build teams using the new content.

Everything’s about learning. Even playing with toy cars.


Commuted sentences

On my commute yesterday I bumped into the head of insessional English and study skills where I work. WE had an interesting chat comparing our experiences working outside programme teams to support new adult learners. Lots of common ground, and good to understand what we each do and how our teaching complements the other. I’ll be working with some of the students he has sessions with shortly.


Have been discussing the increased use of portfolio assessment at my institution. Two years ago, I would have known little about the practicalities of that. Now, I am a portfolio old hand, having put my own together for the PGCert modules. Hopefully that will help me give guidance to the students and to my team helping them.


Your final marks have now gone to board and you will be sent your transcripts next week. I just wanted to say congratulations for your successful completion of the PGCPHE, we understand that the study and commitment required alongside full-time jobs and other life pressures is not an easy process and you should be very proud of your achievements, as we are.”

PGCPHE results confirmed – transcripts to be sent next week. Also an invitation as qualified FHEA, to be a mentor for others going through the PGCert programme. Nice recognition in itself – the idea that I have something to give back to others.



I received my provisional marks and feedback for my last PGCPHE module recently. A good mark. Provisionally. I think I may be getting the hang of this portfolio assessment thing. There’s a strange uncertainty when you’ve submitted a piece of work. You’ve done what you can, you’ve tried to do a good job, you’re as satisfied with it as it can be – but you don’t know for certain how it will be received. My first portfolio was nervous, hesitant, discussing and rife with impostor syndrome. This one was confident, it had my voice, but it understood its context better too. A reflection on my journey as a learner – and a teacher? Perhaps – provisionally.

A Shake of the hand

One of our students came into the library yesterday. He’d recently received his results. He excitedly told me his grades. A pass –  a low pass in absolute terms, but to him an achievement. He shook my hand. He had, he reckoned, spent every weekend for a year working in our library, and wanted to say thank you “for all your care”. Which was a nice way of putting it, and a message I am proud to pass on to our team.


I discovered on the weekend that my friend and sometime collaborator Chris Rowell‘s book Social media in higher education has now been published. Including my chapter, on my personal journey and use of social media in my continuous professional development. It was almost two years ago that Chris invited me to contribute, and since then I’ve updated my draft, helped out with proof reading and referencing, and discussed the book’s progress with Chris over beers and at football matches. I certainly learned a lot about scholarly publishing as a process. There are lots of great contributions and interesting chapters in the work, and it’s something Chris can be proud of.