President’s column

The latest offering from Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes.

I hope that you have all returned revived and refreshed from your summer holidays, if you managed to get away, that is, and I really hope that you did. Holidays and downtime are so good for decluttering the mind and taking time to try and get our priorities right for once. For those of you that have returned to mountains of e-mail, I have to tell you that I adopted the practice several years ago of leaving an ‘out of office’ message with the details of a colleague to be contacted if the message was urgent, with my date back at work (well, a day or two later if I’m entirely honest). If people specifically wanted me to read their particular e-mail and respond to it personally they were asked to send it again on my return; the message warned that all other messages would not be read. Then I set the auto-delete. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes, and everyone who has adopted this system on my advice has told me that they have never looked back!

But now we are back, there’s a heck of a lot to do. As far the Society is concerned, the reordering of our Leicester offices is well under way and our review of our own structures is similarly in full swing. I’ll keep you informed via my blog, but we had a very healthy response to both individual and network consultations and the Society’s member network review steering group, which I chair, assisted most ably by Helen Clark and her team, is busily working up a document to go to this month’s meeting of the Board of Trustees with some initial thoughts and suggestions, following the review, on our future direction.

In September all the schools, colleges and universities restart, so that is our theme for this month. Please let me have details of any ‘education and psychology’ related events that you’d like to promote or would like to report on. Over my time as President I have already spent a lot of time visiting universities, schools and colleges encouraging them in all they are doing that relates to psychology. Our membership services team have also helped me considerably by developing material that we can use when talking to schools – tailored to GCSE, IB and A-level students respectively – together with additional material that we can use when talking to college and university psychology societies. I’m going to a number of secondary schools this month and next, have already been to speak to some university psychology department PsychSocs and am also busily encouraging new ones as they set themselves up.

I’ve also attended conferences run by members of psychology departments both at home and abroad, and must single out this year’s 30th anniversary PsyPAG in Glasgow for its excellence and professionalism. Psychology teaching in schools and universities is so important, and I want us to do all that we can to encourage and support those who teach psychology, especially at pre-tertiary level. In that vein, we already have excellent relationships with the ATP (Association of Teachers of Psychology) and, as well as attending their events, I really want us to develop links with them and, for that matter, any other organisations that psychologists belong to such as the AEP (Association of Educational Psychologists), and other, non-education-related organisations such as the EPS (Experimental Psychology Society), ABIP (Association of Business and Industrial Psychologists) and others. There is so much that we can do along the lines of dual membership, reciprocal membership, and so on. In a nutshell, I would like every psychologist in the UK to be a member of the BPS.

To that end, I am launching a new campaign this month – ‘Recruit a new member in September’. It’s simple. Find a psychologist who you think or know doesn’t belong to the BPS. Explain all the benefits of membership – the networking, the CPD, the conferences and events, the camaraderie, the reduced journals subscriptions and online literature researching resources – and persuade them to join! If we all recruited just one new person, we could have a 100,000 strong Society within weeks.

Members also, of course, get access to our BPS psychology library in Senate House in London, which I visited recently. It’s very impressive and the staff there are really keen to develop and build on the special relationship that we have with them.

We’re particularly pleased that so many undergraduates have joined our Society as student members over the past few months – but we know that there are a lot of students out there who are possibly yet to see the light. So, our team are planning a recruitment drive to coincide with the start of the new academic year later this month, and we will be in touch with our student reps very soon to work with them on this.

Our student reps get sent information about promoting Society membership to their fellow students, receive information on Society events taking place nearby, and are kept up to date with a regular newsletter. They are our link between universities and our students. For any student members interested in becoming a rep, we’d love to have you. Please e-mail [email protected]

For those of you working with or teaching psychology students in psychology or other departments in universities, you may have heard of our multi-membership scheme, where universities have signed up to buy student BPS memberships for whole cohorts of students. Eleven universities have already done just that and we’d like to see many more doing so. Has your university signed up yet? If so, fantastic, spread the word, but if not yet, then please have a think about it and talk to our membership team.Outside schools, colleges and universities you will know that it’s been a busy old time. Our counselling psychologists held their conference in Harrogate, our Psychology of Women Section held their conference in Windsor, our forensic psychologists held their DFP conference in Manchester and EFPA held their ECP at the University of Milan, Bicocca.

Psychology and social justice became a major issue over the summer too, not just through the ethics conference held at UEL, and the DCP’s ‘Beyond the Therapy Room’ conference but through the ‘Walk to Talk’ social justice walk carried out by the large group of psychologists who walked from Leicester to London in August, and in coverage and debate in the national broadcast and print media. The ethics of psychological practice has also, of course, come under a harsh global spotlight with the publication of the Hoffman Report on the APA, and I, through the Board of Trustees, am taking steps to ensure, as far as possible, that our Society has all the procedures and policies in place to make sure that the BPS never finds itself
in a similar position.

This month sees more conferences, the Developmental Psychology Section and Quantitative Methods Section, the Welsh Branch and the Division of Health Psychology and, to bring things round full circle, the Division of Educational and Child Psychology too, and quite possibly many more.

It’s good to be back, it’s good to have you back, and whether or not we study or work in education, that back-to-school feeling probably applies wherever we work. Have a very good September. There’s lots to do.

Jamie Hacker Hughes
[email protected] Twitter: @profjamiehh

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