I would like to begin my first column by remembering Noel Sheehy, who should have taken over as President in June. Noel was Professor of Psychology in Liverpool John Moores University when he died tragically early in May. Paying tribute in The Psychologist (July 2011) Antony Chapman described Noel as a ‘terrific team player and team leader and a magnificent communicator, and he was adept at creating and maintaining successful partnerships across disciplines, across commercial and public health sectors and across EU member states’. Clearly a class act and it is to the Society’s detriment that we will not have him as President.
I would also like to pay tribute to Gerry Mulhern, who is stepping down as President. His year was undertaken with his particular brand of energy, charm and wit, and it has been one of consolidation. The Society has maintained its improved financial position and more importantly maintained its membership numbers, in face of statutory registration and the economic down turn. Gerry has argued that we need to become a more modern, outward looking organisation and during his period of office work on the website is coming to fruition, our policy and parliamentary work is being reviewed and he has been instrumental in focusing on our international profile and the need to enhance this.
I recently attended a seminar arranged by the Scottish Branch and hosted by one of the six Scottish MEP’s. She highlighted that most public health legislation comes from the European Union and this is where we should focus some of our energies and influence.
My working life has been spent in the NHS in Scotland in a variety of clinical, training and managerial roles. I have firsthand experience of the impact that the economic situation is having on education and the public services. I have particular interests in postgraduate training, the recognition and development of professional qualifications and ‘fitness to practice’ issues. We live in an increasingly competitive environment and it is important that we are able to evidence our competencies, look at our commonalities and build on these.
I have enjoyed my time as Chair of the Professional Practice Board, where the Divisions and Special Groups of Psychologists come together to work on our common purpose: to increase the influence of psychological science and the practical applications of psychology for the public good. I firmly believe we can only do this by fostering close collaborations and links between Divisions, Special Groups and Sections. I would also support further reforms of our fellowship grade and the need for Divisions to fully realise benefit from the post-HPC environment.
I would like to extend a special welcome to the thousands of new undergraduates who will be receiving a free copy of this month’s issue. It is never too early to be thinking about jobs and careers. The Society’s website (www.bps.org.uk) is a valuable source of information. Many Psychology students enter University intending to become professional psychologists and about 20 per cent go on to do so.
Established career paths within Psychology include: clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health, neuropsychology, occupational, sports and exercise and teaching and research. Students who pursue careers within these established areas must pursue postgraduate study in order to qualify. Competition for post graduate places can be tough. For many programmes, as well as a good honours degree, relevant experience is required and many students begin undertaking voluntary roles and seeking work experience early in their undergraduate careers.
I would also recommend a very useful publication – ‘Psychology Student Employability Guide: The Higher Education Psychology Network’ (the PDF can be downloaded from tinyurl.com/psychemploy). This guide addresses some issues related to careers in psychology and includes discussion of emerging and growing psychology areas and also careers where Psychology is simply a component part.
The Society can only flourish with the full engagement of its members, and students are a key resource. I would urge you to become fully involved with the Society, it can be a rewarding and valuable activity.
I am looking forward to the forthcoming year and would like to thank those who have sent their good wishes. I would be pleased to hear from members about their concerns and views: e-mail [email protected].
Vote on membership subscription
Our Society is, like many other charities, dealing with an exciting yet challenging future. Over the past two years there have been a number of service improvements that have benefited both Society members and the general public. Continual development is essential to ensure that the Society remains the authoritative voice of psychology in the United Kingdom and that our members benefit.
It is well known that financially these are difficult times for many organisations with inflation running at close to 5 per cent. In 2008 the membership accepted a three-year plan for subscriptions, whereby there was an initial increase of £4 in 2008, followed by an increase in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) in 2009 and 2010. This maintained the purchasing power of your subscriptions.
As this agreement has run out, it is proposed that the link between the RPI and subscriptions be maintained in 2012 to provide stable funding with a 5 per cent increase on all subscription rates for 2012 making the graduate rate £119 (an increase of less than 10p per week) from January 2012. Where appropriate other subscription rates will be adjusted accordingly and direct debit discounts will still apply.
A proposed Schedule of Subscriptions has been prepared.
In accordance with statutes 13(2), 14 and 17(4) of the Society, a vote will take place at a Special General Meeting at noon on Friday 16 September 2011 at St Andrews House, 48, Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR to agree the Schedule of Membership subscriptions for 2012.
Resolution: That the Schedule of Subscriptions be amended to increase all subscriptions by 5 per cent (RPI) in 2012.
NOTE: No other business or votes will take place at the meeting.
We would like to remind you that in the UK your membership subscription and other fees can be set off against your taxable income irrespective of whether you are employed or self employed (see: www.hmrc.gov.uk/list3/list3.htm).
This year’s joint British Academy and British Psychological Society Lecture will be on ‘The resilient brain: Cognition and ageing’. It will be delivered by Professor Lorraine Tyler, a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the Society from the University of Cambridge.
A common view is that normal ageing involves widespread changes in the brain, and these are thought to lead to problems with a variety of everyday cognitive functions, like memory and problem solving. However, Professor Tyler will argue that this belief is starting to be challenged and a more positive one is emerging. This new view does not see ageing as an inexorable and progressive decline in neural and cognitive fitness. Instead, it concentrates on what is preserved as we age and tries to understand the brain mechanisms by which cognitive functions can be preserved in spite of extensive changes in brain tissue.
Professor Tyler heads a university-wide consortium, funded by the BBSRC, to study the relationship between brain function and cognition across the adult lifespan. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995.
The lecture takes place at 6pm on Thursday 22 September at the British Academy, Carlton House Terrace, London.
For more information, see www.bps.org.uk/sharingourscience
Broadcasting a history of the brain
Society member Dr Geoff Bunn will be presenting a 10-part series on BBC Radio 4 on the social history of the brain during November. The series, entitled A History of the Brain, forms part of Radio 4’s two-week Brain Season. The programmes will be broadcast at 1.45pm Monday to Friday from 7 November, with an omnibus edition on the Friday at 9pm.
Geoff Bunn, a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, is Chair of the Society’s History & Philosophy of Psychology Section and was the BPS Centenary Fellow at the Science Museum from 1998 to 2001. He was invited to write and present the series earlier this year, and recording took place in August.
We intend to publish a full interview with Geoff in the November issue to coincide with the broadcasts.
Society member Trude Holmes reached the milestone of her 100th birthday in June, at Greyfriars Court in Lewes.
Trude, who has been a Society member since 1947, was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remembers mourning the death of Emperor Franz Josef when she was only five years old. She has vivid recollections of her schooldays and the exciting intellectual climate of Vienna in the post-war years. She was fascinated by languages and travelled to Hungary, Italy, France and Britain in the late 1920s and early 30s. People, and especially children, have always been her main interest, however. She managed to complete a PhD in Child Psychology in Vienna University before the arrival of the Nazis brought her world crashing down.
She escaped to England, though sadly her parents, Olga and Berthold Falk, did not. Life as a children’s nanny after her arrival in September 1938 was a struggle. Later she managed to train as a teacher and taught languages at the Perse School in Cambridge before becoming a much respected Educational Psychologist in Chelmsford. She loved this job and remained in it until her retirement in 1975, which saw marriage to Geoffrey and a new and very happy phase of her life.
‘Love and attraction’, ‘How e-fits help to identify offenders’ and ‘Psychology of dance’ are just some of the hot topics being discussed at the Society’s annual ‘Psychology4students’ event on Wednesday 23 November at the University of Central Lancashire and Thursday 1 December at Watford Colosseum.
This year will see the launch of an interactive demonstration fair. Taking place over an extended lunch break, local universities and Divisions of the Society will showcase their current research, get the students involved and be available for questions.
As well as five keynote talks by established UK psychologists, attendees will have the opportunity to take part in a selection of mini-workshops including ‘revision techniques’.
Delegates will also have the opportunity to speak to local university students to find out ‘What’s it really like at university?’
Tickets are only £16 (including a packed lunch). There is one free tutor place for every 10 places booked.
Lifetimes of achievement
Emeritus Professor John Radford from the University of East London and Dr Richard Latto from the University of Liverpool are to share a new annual award from the Society’s Psychology Education Board. The Board’s Lifetime Achievement Award has been instituted to recognise unusually significant and sustained contributions to psychology education over the course of a career. It is being made for the first time in 2011.
John Radford was responsible for creating a psychology department at West Ham College of Technology – as the University of East London was then called. This was a major innovation for the non-university higher education, but the department (now the School of Psychology) has since grown into one of the largest in the country.
From 1968 John steered psychology to approval as an A-level subject; the syllabus emphasised the scientific nature of the discipline, with a substantial practical element. His work has led to psychology becoming one of the most popular pre-tertiary examination subjects, with over 100,000 students a year now taking courses in the subject.
John has served on many of the Society’s boards and committees and has published extensively on psychology education. In the late 1960s he initiated a seminar group for teachers of psychology. From this, together with the late James Breese, he formed, and chaired for several years, the Association for the Teaching of Psychology.
He also initiated and chaired a group of teachers of psychology within the British Psychological Society. This became established as a Special Group of the Society before being superseded by the Society’s Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology.
Dr Richard Latto has made major contributions to the discipline of psychology, both at the University of Liverpool and nationally. He took the Liverpool department from a small, informally run grouping to a large, highly regarded department.
Richard has also maintained an active research career. His MRC-funded research has concentrated on visual processes, first in monkeys and later in humans, particularly ‘blindsight’ – the ability to respond to visual stimuli after cortical visual areas of the brain have been damaged without conscious awareness of these stimuli.
As a Trustee of the British Psychological Society, and a Chair of its Education Board, Richard was centrally involved in the radical revision of its accreditation procedures and criteria for over 100 UK institutions currently offering undergraduate programmes in psychology, which took effect in this academic year. As Chair of the Board he also led the successful campaign to persuade the Training and Development Agency for Schools to fund earmarked places for psychology graduates to train as psychology teachers. Richard’s roles in the QAA have also had significant impact on the teaching and quality of undergraduate programmes in the UK.
Through his roles in the Science Council and the Campaign for Science and Engineering, he has been particularly influential in arguing the case that psychology, as taught in the UK, is a central scientific discipline.
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