CELFS Teaching and Learning Network

Welcome to the CELFS Pre-Sessional Network

by Gavin Dodsworth

I’m thrilled to have been asked to write the first short entry blog for the CELFS Pre-sessional Tutors Network – I have to be honest, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the summer seems a fair distance away (there’s a good bit of Bristol drizzle outside as I write this), but I’ve also been around for long enough to know the summer will be with us again before we know it…

There are many things which make the pre-sessionals both interesting and tricky: on the one hand, in the summer the Centre experiences a large influx of people who are not with us for the rest of the academic year. That’s interesting because you bring ideas and experiences which challenge what we do and make us think about our approach and whether it’s ‘right’ – you also bring (I hope☺), a good chunk of energy from which we as a Centre benefit greatly.

On the other, it’s tricky, in that as a Centre we spend quite a large amount of time during the conventional academic year trying to create a particular ethos – this can range from how we approach our teaching and our joint attitudes to student learning, but it’s also about the theoretically smaller things like the kind of place we want to work in and the set of values that as a very disparate group of people we want to embody.

Hence, I hope this network is a way of giving something back (you may not be here all year, but we do think about you☺), but also bridging the gaps between what many of us will now think of as the norm, and what may appear a little curious and potentially alien on your arrival or return.

Scanning forwards from my perspective as Director, the most obvious change coming up is our piloting of a small 14 week pre-sessional. This introduction is a pre-cursor to slightly bigger changes that we’re planning for the 2017-2018 academic year, changes where we’re likely to merge the 9 and 6 month International Graduate Programme with what will be by then the three entry points of the pre-sessional, to effectively create an extended EAP five entry point pre-sessional for entry to the University.

Also, following our awarding of the BALEAP conference to the Centre / University in 2017, and Maxine Gillway’s position as Chair of the organization for next year, it also made sense that we asked to be accredited by BALEAP by 2016. I’ll leave others to discuss this, but after the British Council’s inspection last year, I have no doubt that this will go well.

So I’ll finish with thanking those who have taken the initiative to put this together, to welcome you to the network and to say I’m looking forward to reading and potentially responding to some of the blogs.


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