Snakes and ladders

The UK Social Mobility Awards (SOMO) are a cross-society set of awards “established to recognise and encourage action that will promote and increase social mobility within Britain’s companies and institutions. These awards…recognise best practice and innovation and celebrate excellence and achievement and elevate social mobility as a cause equal to the level of other diversity…

Getting underway

Around the country, children have returned to school and students are returning – or starting – university. The pandemic may not be over, but many semblances of normality are returning. It’s been a long time for all of us, but if you are a young person, the last eighteen months has been a huge proportion…

New year

Throughout my career, I’ve always had a very distinctive feeling at this time of year. You know that Autumn is in the air. The mornings are a little darker and a little cooler. The leaves beginning to turn. The “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is upon us. Despite a careful reading of Keats’s poem,…

Moving more

This blog is a week – to be more accurate, a week and a day – later.  I took a week’s leave last week. and we went away for a week of walking, cycling and exploring to a remote corner of Herefordshire.  We might have chosen a week of better weather, but it was nonetheless…

Levelling-up

We are all beginning to move out into the world again. About ten days ago, I set off to Shirecliffe in north-east Sheffield for what was probably my first visit on behalf of the university for fourteen months. In Shirecliffe, the University has partnered with Save the Children, Sheffield City Council and Watercliffe Meadows School…

Testing…

A couple of years ago, before the pandemic, I hosted a dinner for Hallam alumni who lived in an overseas city where I’d been doing a lecture tour. It was a great evening, drawing together Hallam alumni from several decades ago as well as very recent graduates. They all got on very well. At one…

Prospects

I try to go for a walk early every morning – a half hour turn around the streets near home.  Although it’s an urban walk, as the mornings have got lighter, there are unmistakable signs of spring: bulbs in verges, trees coming into leaf and into blossom, birdsong.  It’s a reminder that behind the timetables…

A year

On Monday 16 March 2020, a group of the university’s senior staff met in the Vice-Chancellor’s office to work through the changing coronavirus situation and emerging government guidance.  We knew the Prime Minister was to address the nation the next day.  We’d worked through information on students, courses and the campus, and had already made…

Metaphors

The most important and interesting ideas in politics and policy are abstract.  ‘Opportunity’, ‘equality’, ‘freedom’, ‘fairness’, ‘choice’, ‘quality’ and so on are all ideas which are powerful driving forces but need to be given context and meaning in order to make a difference to people’s lives and to society.  A good deal of policy disagreement…

Unpredictable

There used to be a market for almanacs of predictions about the year ahead. Perhaps there still is. These almanacs were always frankly unbelievable, not simply because the future is by definition unknowable but because the predictions were always on the apocalyptic side – the way to sell these things is to veer towards the…