The first English UK Student Experience conference of the decade is fast approaching, with seminars and discussions relevant to everyone working in administrative and support roles.
Nigel Heritage, who'll be outlining a very practical approach to risk assessment at the Sheffield conference, believes it is a really important event.
"Although admin, accommodation, welfare and social programme staff may not always have a lot of face-to-face time with the students, the sort of work they do is so important; they create the structure which allows the students to come over and enjoy their experience here. Often the students talk to them about things they don't discuss with their teachers."
"They are absolutely vital staff, and this kind of day is really useful for them."
Nigel is keen to emphasise that his session on risk assessments is about making them as useful as possible. That means using the process to properly think about possible risks, and then communicate the results to everyone concerned including students and group leaders; there's so much more to it than just a box-ticking exercise.
"For instance, you might look at younger students travelling between their home stay and school. There are some very practical and useful ways of risk assessing these journeys than just ticking the boxes. Nobody expects to eliminate all risk but we're looking to noticeably reduce unnecessary risk."
"You might look at them travelling on the bus. What you might not think of - but this process will get you to do so - is to suggest that they sit on the bottom deck, close to the driver which lessens the risk of the students running into strife with locals."
"A weak link in risk assessment is often communications - you need to remember to tell the students that this is a good place for them to sit. They might still go upstairs to the front, but if there are any problems they know where they should go."
He added: "Foreign students are vulnerable, not just the younger ones, because they don't always get the little social signals that residents notice and you can't be there to watch out for them. That's why this kind of risk assessment - and we'll be discussing much more about it and looking at some more examples - is so valuable."
The Student Experience Conference is being held at the University of Sheffield on September 26 and is ideal for all language school staff involved in student administration, student welfare, student accommodation and implementing social programmes.
Other elective sessions include giving social programmes the "wow factor", managing accommodation, integrating learning and leisure and meeting Accreditation UK's student welfare criteria.
Find out more and book your place.
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