Staff Consultative Council's meeting summaries

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9 December 2010

Mapping Project: The SCC received a report from Dr Myria Georgiou on consultation in the Department for Media and Communications. The report was largely positive demonstrating the consultation to be comprehensive with no obvious gaps. It was noted that Media and Communications is a small department and that mapping larger departments and service areas would prove more challenging.

The School's Financial Position:   SCC welcomed back George Gaskell in his capacity as chair of the Special Economies and Revenue Generation Group. George informed the meeting that the SERG Group had now received feedback on possible areas of saving and revenue generation across the School and it is expected that approximately £8 million worth of savings can be made in response to total cuts in government expenditure of 25%. George highlighted the forthcoming cuts to the School's research grants which will become clearer shortly. However, he sounded an optimistic note about the School's financial position, pointing to a historical surplus and plans to launch new executive MSc degrees. He also stated that following the release of the Browne Review the School is reviewing its approach to tuition fees. A decision will be made for students starting in 2012 and the need to widen participation will be at the forefront of the review.

St Philips Medical Centre: George Gaskell also spoke to the SCC in his capacity as pro director (Resources and Planning) regarding the future of the St Philips Medical Centre. The SCC welcomed the news that discussions are under way to relocate the Medical Centre in Floors 1 & 2 of Tower 3, following an agreement with Camden Primary Care Trust. It is hoped that this move can lead to an expansion in the current medical services, with the possibility of the service extending to cover students who live south of the river Thames and Summer School students.

Further details of the SCC's informal meeting on 9 December 2010 can be found in the December 2010 minutes|.  

11 November 2010

This was an informal meeting of the SCC.

Mapping Project: Anne Lapping, chair of the SCC, briefed the meeting on her proposal to map the consultation that takes place across the School on a department-by-department basis. The aim of the project would be to highlight deficiencies in the consultation process and ultimately to embed the idea of consultation in the culture of the School. It was agreed that Dr Myria Georgiou (SCC rep, Media and Communications) would carry out a pilot survey of consultation within her department.

Staff Survey Group: The SCC discussed the release of the breakdown of the results from the 2009 Staff Survey and agreed that a representative from HR should be invited to the next meeting to provide a briefing on the dissemination of the results. The SCC will also request that it be allowed access to the raw data from the survey.

HR Issues: The SCC received a report from Debra Ogden (SCC rep, ARD) on parental leave and to seek clarification on how this relates to the School's policy on emergency leave in general. It was agreed that this paper should be expanded to cover leave for adoption and then sent to Gail Keeley (HR) for comment.

Further details of the SCC's informal meeting on 11 November 2010 can be found in the November 2010 minutes|.  

24 June 2010

School policy on consultation with staff over room moves: In response to concern from reps and their constituents over the School's decision to move the staff restroom, formerly located on the ground floor of the Old Building, to the basement in order to allow for improvements to Old Building Reception, the SCC invited Gail Keeley, head of Employment Relations, to discuss the School's policy on consultation with staff when changes to the working environment are planned. Gail explained that the School's employment contracts do not require staff to be consulted on room moves but that the Managing Positive Working Relationships Toolkit advises all managers to keep their staff up to date on planned moves. Gail offered to discuss the specific issue with Estates management team, which was welcomed by the SCC. However, the SCC was concerned that this issue of management communication and consultation with staff.

SCC membership and elections: The SCC discussed the possibility of expanding its membership in order to improve representation for groups of staff across the School. It was agreed that there were possible benefits to increasing the number of reps but that the immediate priority should be to hold elections for the current SCC vacancies.

Staff House: The SCC received a proposal from Astrid Küllmann-Lee (SCC rep, Language Centre) for a Staff House that would act as a common room and provide various facilities for staff of all grades to use. Astrid explained that this proposal was a response to informal feedback that she had received from colleagues that they sometimes experienced feelings of isolation and stress at work and did not feel that the current facilities were always accessible or appropriate. The SCC discussed this issue and it was felt by the reps to contain many good ideas. However, in the current financial climate it was not considered to be a realistic proposal for the SCC to pursue at the current time.

Further details of the SCC's meeting on 24 June 2010 can be found in the June 2010 minutes|

29 April 2010

The School's Financial Position:  The SCC heard a report from George Gaskell, as chair of the Special Economies and Revenue Generation Group, on the School's financial position in light of expected reductions in government spending to be announced later in the year. The SCC welcomed the recognition that widest possible consultation should take place over proposed cuts in expenditure and it hopes to be fully involved in this process. See SCC's response to School's Financial Position briefing| [Word doc]. 

St Philips Medical Centre: George Gaskell (Pro-Director, Resources and Planning) briefed the SCC on the future of the Medical Centre and Dental Practice once St Philips has been demolished to make way for the new student centre. The SCC heard that the School was committed to continuity of health service provision and that if a permanent location had not been finalised at the time of demolition then temporary facilities would be provided. See SCC's response to St Philips Medical Centre briefing| [Word doc].

Well-being Policy:  Anne O'Brien (Head of Health and Safety) provided the SCC with a report on the School's new well-being policy. See SCC's response to Well-being Policy briefing| [Word doc].  

Further details of the SCC's meeting on 29 April 2010 can be found in the April 2010 minutes|

25 March 2010

The Tate Staff Council: The SCC was fortunate to welcome Rebecca Hellen, Chair of the Tate Staff Council (TSC), to discuss the role of the TSC at the Tate. The TSC has been running since 1996, considerably longer than the SCC and as such it has been involved in a number of successful initiatives that have improved working conditions for staff at the Tate. The SCC was extremely impressed with the work of the TSC and the high regard with which it is held by management at the Tate. It is hoped that the SCC can learn from the example of the TSC and that further exchanges of best practice can take place in the future.

Compassionate Leave: Gail Keeley, Head of Employment Relations, briefed the SCC on the School's policy on compassionate leave. See SCC's response to  Compassionate Leave briefing| [Word doc].

Council Effectiveness:   Kate Jenkins, Chairman of the Council Effectiveness Review Group, sent the SCC a letter requesting feedback for the Review of Council Effectiveness|. The SCC had a number of comments, including raising the profile of Council among staff in the School, all of which can be read SCC's feedback.|

The Staff Survey: Alison Johns, Director of Staff Communication and Engagement, reported on the results of the 2009 staff survey|, which took place in 2009. She noted that the overall results were very positive with the vast majority of staff viewing LSE as a great place to work. However, areas for concern were also highlighted, in particular it was noted that administrative staff had lower rates of job satisfaction than academic staff, and only a minority of administrative staff perceived communication between themselves and academic staff to be good. Workload and stress were also identified as problems for a significant number of staff and bullying, while less prevalant is also a matter of concern. See SCC responses to the Staff Survey 2009 briefing|.

Further details of the SCC's meeting on 25 March 2010 can be found in the March 2010 minutes|.   

10 December 2009

At the December meeting of the Staff Consultative Council it was agreed that the SCC would adopt the policy of responding in writing to speakers who are invited to address its meetings. These formal documents will contain comments and recommendations from the SCC and speakers will be asked to feed them into the relevant decision making structures within their Division or Department. The responses to the speakers at the most recent meeting can be found at the link below.

"The Student Experience": Simeon Underwood, Academic Registrar, reported on the efforts being undertaken by the School to respond to negative results in recent surveys such as the National Student Survey and the International Student Barometer. He highlighted the work of the Teaching Task Force, the introduction of LSE 100, improvements to the School estate and innovative ideas such as moves to improve remote access to information.

See Simeon's PowerPoint presentation|, and SCC's response to The Student Experience briefing|.

LSE's Single Equality Scheme 2010-2013:  Carolyn Solomon-Pryce, equality and diversity advisor, reported on the School's new Single Equality Scheme (SES). Carolyn stated that the SES demonstrates the School's commitment to addressing issues of equality and diversity, and promoting inclusiveness. It will replace the School's current race, disability and gender schemes. The SES incorporates a three-stage consultation process, which begins in January 2010.

See Single Equality Scheme 2010-2013 document  |accompanying Caroyln's presentation. See also SCC's responses to Single Equality Scheme briefing|.

Counselling Service: Adam Sandelson, senior counsellor, reported on the School's decision to integrate the staff and student counselling services. The service will be provided by several counsellors who will operate across both staff and student bodies. The provision for staff would be the equivalent of one, full-time counsellor. It was hoped that having a number of counsellors providing the service would reduce the impact of individual counsellors being unavailable. Adam noted that the School hoped to recruit a new counsellor in early 2010 and that the new service would be in place after this recruitment had taken place. Until then the existing phone service will remain in place.

See the document on the Staff Counselling Service|, accompanying Adam's report and SCC's responses to the report on the Counselling Service.

Human Resources: Barbara Bush, HR director, kindly responded to a request from the SCC to take part in a wide ranging debate on the role of the HR Division in the School. The discussion focused on the relationship between HR and non-management staff within the School and a perception among some members of the SCC that HR acts as a management function. The discussion also touched upon the School's grievance procedure and the perception that this was a specific area of policy and procedure where management receive more support than non-management staff.

The SCC's comments following the discussion with Barbara can be found SCC's comments on Role of Human Resources Division debate|.

Further details can be found in the 10 December 2010 SCC Minutes| [PDF]

25 June 2009

Human Resources Strategy: Barbara Bush, director of Human Resources, reported on the draft HR strategy for the period 2008-2012.The strategy followed a wide consultation and its purpose was to demonstrate that all School staff were involved in the successful delivery of the HR strategy.

LSE Finance Division: Andy Farrell, director of Finance and Facilities, reported to the SCC on the past, current and future financial position of LSE. Andy highlighted the work undertaken to move LSE from position of debt to one of surplus and the investments in the estate. The removal of School debt has allowed for a number of major investments, including the New Academic Building and improvements to teaching rooms. Andy also highlighted the factors, which would impact on the School's financial position but emphasised that the surplus would help to offset periods of relative financial difficulty.

Staff Survey 2009: Astrid Kuellmann-Lee, the SCC’s representative on the Staff Survey Panel, reported progress on the development of the forthcoming staff survey. The contract to conduct the survey has been awarded to a team based at Bristol University called “Positive People”, which has a proven track record of carrying out surverys in UK universities. The competitive pricing of their bid has enabled the Panel to focus some of the budget on publicity. An external consultancy called is producing promotional materials to encourage staff to complete the survey, under the slogan: “What could be better”. The survey is scheduled to run in November 2009.

Further details can be found in the 25 June 2009 SCC Minutes| [PDF]

26 March 2009

Harassment Procedures: Gail Keeley outlined the procedures currently in place at LSE for dealing with claims of harassment and dispute resolution. She also informed the SCC of forthcoming Dispute Resolution Review (DRR) due in April 2009, aimed at early and flexible dispute resolution. LSE is responding to this by continuing to encourage mediation, improving the training given to managers and referring to Acas procedures. The SCC raised several issues in response, including the role of line managers when the a dispute involved them and the process for dealing with malicious claims. It was agreed that Gail would respond to these questions in due course.

Equal Pay Audit: The SCC received a report from Human Resources outlining LSE's agenda for the forthcoming equal pay audit. The report stated that the Equality and Diversity Advisor will be working with HR in conducting a review of equal pay across the School. This first review will focus on equal pay across gender, and future reviews will include equal pay across race, age and disability. The SCC was positive about the content of the report and will provide feedback over the proposed time frames for the review.

Employee Well-being Policy: Anne O'Brien, Head of Health and Safety reported on LSE's Employee Well-being Policy. This policy reflects the School's recognition that work related stress has many causes and Anne highlighted the various measures that are being taken to combat stress at LSE. It was agreed that Health and Safety would become a standing issue for the SCC and that Anne would report to the Council once a term.  

Further details can be found in the 26 March 2009 SCC Minutes| [PDF]

18 December 2008

Staff Counselling: Counselling provision for staff remains a concern, with the current counsellor still on long term sick leave. Barbara Bush (new HR Director) commented that the phone service currently in place is 24 hour a day 365 days a year. However, the overall situation is being reviewed and HR will know the outcome of the review soon.

Immigration: Barbara Bush updated SCC on the new guidelines issued by the Home Office in regards to changes made in July 2008 concerning immigration and how it affects recruitment procedures of staff, current staff and the intake of Students.

Estates: Mark Atkinson reported on LSE's waste management policy and the need to purchase items for life and to maintain and repair regularly to prolong life. He also highlighted the effort being made to ensure that all LSE contractors adhere to the LSE's environmental policy.

SCC Training: In order to improve the work of the SCC a training consultant attended the meeting to observe the interaction of the members and to offer feedback on how the Council can better focus its work.

Further details can be found in 18 December Draft SCC Minutes| [PDF]

16 October 2008

Nursery provision: The SCC became aware of consideration in the School for providing equitable nursery provision for parents and plans for possible alternatives to the current nursery set up which was deemed under subscribed. The SCC welcomes comments from staff, though a formal consultation process was likely to take place for users and potential users.
Update: The Nursery Consultation Committee has since canvassed staff and the consultation ended on Friday 5 December. The NCC will report the outcomes to the Finance and General Purposes Committee and Council.

Staff Counselling: It was understood that counselling provision for staff required further attention, as the situation had not changed since the current counsellor went on long term sick leave. Though alternative arrangements were in place, these were thought to be lacking for an institution of this size. The SCC would be making a bid for further resources and closer attention to counselling provision, particularly noting the potential for high numbers of stressed staff, as noted in the staff survey.

Harassment procedures and immigration policy: The SCC began to look at harassment procedures in the School, and if there was potential to improve these. It would be investigating over the coming months, liaising with HR, and would be interested in staff comments also. Further consideration would also be given to the new immigration policy that was likely to affect appointments at the School, and flexible working policy. Comments from staff on any of these areas would be very welcome.

Communication and Procedures: The SCC, one year on, had produced a news and views special to update staff on their activity and continue to raise awareness of activity. During this meeting it was confirmed that a staff drop box for comments was on order and would be placed in the Old Building for anonymous comments to be posted and capacity to send LSEmail was now set up to update all staff on SCC news. A review of the SCC procedures was under way and Mike Bragg was nominated as Vice Chair.

Additional Working Hours and Overtime Policy: A Draft Additional Working Hours and Overtime Policy |[PDF] was presented to the SCC with feedback requested outside of the meeting due to a lack of time on the day.
Update: An SCC response| [PDF] has now been written and sent to HR staff and union reps in the Framework Agreement Negotiations Group.

See 16 October Draft minutes| [PDF]

20 June 2008

At the last meeting of its inaugural year the SCC reviewed it's progress, and plans to publish a News and Views special in the Michaelmas term to update staff on its achievements. Existing members have been nominated to remain on the Council for another, to provide consistency and build on the work of the last year to get the Council up and running. Training over the summer has been arranged which will help the SCC to develop further as a team and think about the year ahead.

Among the issues discussed at this meeting the SCC considered arrangements for the LSE counselling services and whether more could be done to support this valuable resource. A report was received from HR on current investigations into graduate teaching assistants and other hourly paid teaching staff terms and conditions. While much was being considered under the teaching task force the SCC were interested to learn about the process and to ensure that hourly paid staff were involved in the consultation process. The SCC would continue to take an interest in the developments of the teaching task force and wishes to be update on its progress.

Other areas that the SCC would be investigating further after initial discussion at this meeting included School cleaning contracts, SCC suggestions boxes for staff and assaults on staff. It was also decided that up to three members of staff could observe an SCC meeting, with the SCC reserving the right to close any part or all of the meeting if deemed appropriate. The next SCC meeting will be in October.

See 20 June Draft minutes| [PDF]

30 May 2008

May's meeting included:

  • Chris Higgins, the Director of Estates, reported on the Estates strategy for the next 15 years as well as developments over the course of the summer that will be taking place.
  • A report from Ann O'Brien the LSE Health and Safety advisor on stress in the workplace.  Anne explained that a pilot survey had been produced and circulated to four volunteer departments. This survey was produced in response to the Staff survey conducted in November 2006, where it was highlighted that 26% of staff completing the survey indicated that they suffered too much stress at work.  There are plans to roll out a larger survey across the School to help understand what the School can do to improve the workplace for staff to minimise the causes and effects of stress.
  • It was highlighted that the terms for the reduction of tuition fees for staff were being reviewed by the relevant committees. They are looking at suitable packages of benefits for different types of staff categories such as PhD students, who are often enrolled as students before they were employed as staff. SCC are to request consultation before a final decision is made.

Further details in the 30 May Minutes| [PDF]

13 February 2008

The third meeting included:

  • A report on "Communications" from SCC members, including a provisional logo, plans for this website & a dedicated email address (
  • Ann O'Brien, the LSE Health and Safety advisor reported on the Health and Safety Executive's visit.
  • A discussion on matters arising from the staff survey including integrated inductions for academic and non-academic staff to help reduce barriers between the two
  • A discussion on work-life balance, a topic to be revisited in the near future

Further details in the Draft Minutes 12 February| [PDF].

29 October 2007

At the second SCC meeting members started to explore some of the issues highlighted at the initial meeting.

The discussions focussed on:

  • issues relating to part-time and hourly paid staff
  • a desire to make Internet access available to all staff
  • concerns over staff harassment from students, and in particular how staff deal with students who have mental health problems
  • a need to explore some dissatisfaction with the working environment as highlighted in the staff survey
  • work-life balance

A number of actions were agreed upon - see Staff Consultative Council Actions 29/10/2007| [PDF]. In particular it was decided that the focus of the next meeting should be work-life balance with the views of staff to be canvassed ahead of the next meeting. A Communications group was also established to look at how best to communicate with staff, especially those without direct representation on SCC, for example contracted cleaning and catering staff.

28 June 2007

The inaugural meeting of the Staff Consultative Council mainly focussed on establishing the purpose of the Council and how it would operate.

This resulted in the creation of an 'agenda committee' who would be responsible for deciding on what would be discussed at each SCC meeting. The nomination of the SCC's representative to the Council (LSE's governing body) was also discussed but not agreed upon.

There was a discussion about how SCC should communicate with and represent all staff at the university with members being concerned that groups of staff not directly were represented whether or not they had a member on SCC.

The meeting covered the relationship between senior management and the SCC and it was decided that SCC wouldn't have a member of senior management in attendance and that it was important to be independent. However the SCC would had the ability to request attendance of senior managers and other staff at particular meetings.

The meeting concluded with members raising areas of interest they would like to see the SCC focus on. These were: harassment of staff by students, academic/administrative staff relations, email etiquette, work life balance, the staff survey, the anti-harassment panel and communication and integration across the LSE. See SCC Minutes 28 June 2007| [PDF] for further details.