Our first visit to the campus

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End May 21, 2007

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

May 8, 2007
After breakfast this morning, our curriculum partners met us at the hotel and walked us over to the campus (next door).  The day began with a tour of the campus and a stop at IT to set up our computers (so that we can plug in to the internet on campus).  My curriculum partner, Jacob Gritz, teaches several psychology classes, including some termed Access (often composed of what we would call "non-traditional" students-those over 19) and some A-level classes (a more traditional academic route). He indicated that his students are preparing for exams in 2 weeks.  The exams are national and he indicated that he has to make sure that students have met certain learning objectives in preparation for the examination.  He invited me to teach on Thursday; he provided me with some of the materials that he has been using for the class and I will put together a class covering several components of research design. I was surprised at the depth with which this subject is covered in these classes (it is much more detail than is typically presented in a general psychology course).  I'll be busy preparing for that tonight no doubt; it will be interesting to see the similarities and differences in student-professor interactions in the classroom.
As we toured the campus, it was explained to us that 2 of the buildings were former grammar schools (one for girls & the other for boys).   The space in between those buildings has been filled in with more school buildings in the 1950s.  The library for the city of Bournemouth was taken over by the school as well and it has a distinctive clock tower that faces a busy roundabout in town. We visited an area dedicated to training in "Animal Care"; several students were working in this area, taking care of many different kinds of  animals including chinchillas, turtles, pythons, sugar-gliders, and birds.  There was an outdoor aviary and an area in which ferrets were kept.  We were informed that students who focus on this area of study might be aiming for employment in a pet store. 
As we walked around the campus, I was struck by the posters/flyers on the walls and bulletin boards as they seem to focus a great deal on health (physical/mental) and overall well-being (in contrast to just being advertisements or informational in nature). There were also postings about expectations for behavior in the classroom placed prominently throughout campus (e.g., don't arrive late, turn off cell phones, be respectful). I also noticed that some of them noted successful performance on some critical examinations.
We stopped by the Student Advice center (the equivalent of our tutoring area the CFC library) and found it quite interesting to learn that all students are assigned a personal tutor.  The expectation is that the tutor (who is often a faculty member) check in with their students regularly to monitor their progress and to serve as a sort of personal liaison with the school.  A fundamental difference between BPC and CFC's systems seems to be that the responsibility for maintaining the contact is with the tutor and it is not viewed as something that is utilized only when difficulties are encountered.  Additionally, the tutor's role is not just helping students with content in a subject area; Jacob Gritz told me that he might be receive a note if one of "his" students had been arriving late to classes and this would then prompt him to go and meet with this student to check out what is going on.  Jacob described this system as a "net" for students who might be having difficulties in school.  In discussion with a staff member from the Student Advice center, it also seems that they perform some quite complex assessments in order to identify students with learning difficulties (the assessments are performed on site). 
After touring several of the buildings, we  had a lovely lunch at The Escoffier; a restaurant maintained by the culinary program at the school.  Apparently, this program is quite well-respected, with graduates attaining placements as some very prestigious locations (such as The Savoy, The Ritz-Carlton) and I was told that one former student even worked as a personal chef for Prince Charles. The food is served by students who aim to have a career as a chef. 
After lunch we spoke briefly with Lawrence and other administrative staff, spending the most time with Rob Garner (head of 6th form academy) discussing the structure of BPC and reviewing the organizational chart. 
Went to Alcatraz Italian restaurant to celebrate Julie's birthday; the food was fantastic.  Another great day!
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