"Participants coming out of the Cert SSM know how to be well organised, meet deadlines and communicate well. It really is an investment in a person and their career," says Dr Diane Phillips, a British Council inspector and Cert SSM trainer.
The Certificate in Student Services Management course is suitable for all career stages and all roles. It goes through every aspect of British Council inspection and emphasises managing people and time.
Running from October 2019 to April 2020, the course is taught through seven classroom sessions at David Game College in London and self-study with personalised support.
Diane explains how it can benefit English language centres, staff and students...
What kind of experience do you need to have to do the Cert SSM?
One of the benefits of the course is that it's suitable to people in all different stages of their careers. It can be helpful to those who are just starting out, giving them a handbook on how to do it, as well as those who are managing people in welfare and accommodation roles.
The Cert SSM gives participants the bigger picture and long-term plans to implement. Another benefit is having all those people from different backgrounds who learn and teach each other.
How can the Cert SSM benefit an English language centre?
There are both immediate and long-term effects on the centre. It is always going to be a benefit to have better informed and motivated staff.
The Cert SSM meets once a month for seven months and the participants can come back to their centres and start putting their new knowledge to work after each meeting!
In the long-term, the tasks ensure that the centre has up to date information and gives both them and the participant ideas on how to better succeed.
What about the benefits to the individual taking the Cert SSM?
Sending your staff on training makes them feel valued. The Cert SSM is an investment in their future with the organisation. The course itself gives them confidence that what they're doing already is good and provides the opportunity to network with peers.
One of the great things we've found about the Cert SSM is the cohorts support each other through the course, and often remain in contact afterwards.
How does the Cert SSM help to prepare centres for British Council inspection?
This course goes through every aspect and criterion of inspection. There are sections that look at management, welfare and safeguarding, leaving the participants with no doubt in how to do well. The assignments help them look into their own schools and make steps to improve things where they can.
What is your favourite part to teach?
The most interesting part to teach is always the first one! It's about management, communication and resolving problems and really gets the core of what management is about.
Why is the Cert SSM important for staff development?
The Cert SSM is very thorough. It covers everything they need to know and answers questions about how to fulfil their roles and gives them the confidence to do it well.
It's not a narrow course or set to one job. There is a strong aspect on managing people and time which help develop skills that can be transferred to different roles.
The participants coming out of the Cert SSM know how to be well organised, meet deadlines and communicate well. It really is an investment in a person and their career.
Accommodation and welfare is stressful and high pressure work. What's your advice?
Plan ahead! Think about what your students need from you and plan for the possibilities. Success in these roles relies on organisation and hard work.
Dr Diane Phillips is a British Council inspector, and Open University lecturer and Cert SSM trainer. She was head of academic management, UK schools, and of the young learners' department at Bell Educational Trust.
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