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June: Student Takeover – A day in the life of a Principal

So this month was our student takeover, where a number of students were able to apply to takeover a role in college.  I’m going to hand the reigns over to Oliver Watkins for this months blog post who was Principal for the day, but I will let him tell you all about it…

 

Student Takeover Blog: Becoming College Principal for the day – Oliver Watkins

 
Introduction
On Monday 13th June 2016, I had the privilege of acting as Co-Principal of Bath College for the day, witnessing and becoming involved in critical decision-making areas for the entire college, which for me was very exciting, interesting and fascinating.

 

At the start of the day, my activities included an introductory meeting with Matt Atkinson; the College Principal and his PA, who would be monitoring and guiding me throughout the day. Meeting Matt and introducing myself to him was an exciting experience.  He introduced me to his role and the daily activities of his job as the Principal. An example of this was reviewing and assessing inquiries made by different college departments and requesting suitable employment of new people for the departments’ needs.
Having the chance to sit in Matt’s office I witnessed Matt assessing with one management colleague discussing the most appropriate course of action to take in relation to their HR inquiries. It was fascinating to see how the College’s strategic management team deliberated and took consideration into staff recruitment and human resource processes.

 
After this, Matt informed me about the planned day ahead for me, which included sitting in a weekly strategic meeting with College executives. The primary task of the day was for me to be given the responsibility to investigate and decide whether ‘Bath College should become smoke-free?’

 
Weekly Strategic Meeting
After the initial brief with the Principal, I was invited to sit in the weekly senior team meeting, which lasted 2 hours.  Discussion included present issues impacting staffing, performance and administration at Bath College. I found it very cool and exciting to be present in the situation where major management discussions were being made, as this can lead to decisions that can have a major impact on the working lives of 1000s of employees and students at this college.

 
For many people of my age, sitting in a meeting for over 2 hours may seem a long and daunting experience to endure; at first, I even thought the information being discussed would be far beyond my comprehension. However, happily, I proved myself wrong. Everything being discussed was fully engaging and thought-provoking but at the same time very clear to understand. Witnessing these exciting discussions even at one point encouraged me to speak out and give my independent opinion on a topic of concern. So all in all, this was a very fascinating and surprisingly enjoyable experience for me to be part of.  Perhaps one day, with much hard work I could see myself in more of these types of settings.

 
Lunch
After the meeting, I was invited to lunch with the Principal at the Shrubbery restaurant, where I was able to take the opportunity to talk on a more relaxed and informal basis, asking questions more to do with his day to day role and his plans and aspirations for the future once he has left the college.
After lunch, I met up again with Matt’s PA, who had created a timetable for me of all the people I had arranged to meet for my upcoming task of deciding whether Bath College should become smoke-free.

 
The Task
Finally, it was time to start my main task of investigating and concluding with recommendations for whether the College should become smoke-free. I needed to be finished by 4 pm to be ready to present my recommendations to Matt and the College’s Chair of Governors. Personally speaking, this was the most exciting and enjoyable part of the day.  It involved me taking up the challenge of hearing others’ opinions from the different areas of the college such as the Estates department and Student Participation, which empowered me to make actual strategic recommendations that could impact the whole college. Moreover, by being given the chance to hear each argument as part of the interviewing process, I had the opportunity to decide and weigh out the positives and negatives for each argument.  This, in turn, would influence the actions of Matt, the Principal himself and others from the board of governors. This made for a very fine sense of achievement; that will never be forgotten. Just knowing I had played a factor in the organisation’s policy felt surreal.

 

Once my task had been completed, I presented my findings and recommendations to Matt and the Chair of Governors, where I decided to recommend that the ‘college should become smoke-free by 2020’ and that ‘there should be provision to cover and protect the area allocated for bikes from potential damage’.
After my meeting with Matt and the Chair of Governors, my role as acting Co-Principal for Bath College had finished in what had been a thoroughly enjoyable, and empowering day. I could easily say yes to doing this again if the opportunity ever arises.

 
Conclusion
Since that day, I was honoured with a sense of achievement to hear that shortly after my investigation a strategic meeting was held that considered my recommendations and put forward plans to make the city campus smoke free by September later this year.

 

To summarise, I am very glad and proud of myself for taking on this wonderful opportunity and would strongly encourage any student to apply for this role. As well as this, I would like to thank the college personally and thank the people involved in setting up this day, and huge thanks for giving me the chance to come here to experience a very different day that was both challenging and fantastic.

 

Thank you so much Bath College!