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Weeknote 02/2021

I know this isn’t exactly an original thought, but time seems to be acting weirdly at the moment. Everything is a bit discombobulating, but I guess everyone’s in the same boat. We’ll figure it out.

Druridge Bay, Northumberland

Meanwhile, I’m spending time working on interesting stuff with awesome people, and doing things which make me smile. Like what, you say? Well, walking in the winter sun with my family, playing PS4, reading, and listening to Kylie’s fabulous latest album, Disco. Good music is good music, people.


It’s been our daughter’s 10th birthday this week, which, if you can remember back that far, is a Big Deal. Double digits! She’s awesome and I’m very glad that she’s growing into a confident young woman who knows her own mind.

This week has also seen our son starting the process of choosing his GCSE option subjects, which takes me back to when I chose mine 26 years ago. It’s so important to choose things that interest you. For example, I did Media Studies and not only really enjoyed it — I made a plasticine stop-motion version of Match of the Day — but also got an ‘A’ and learned things that have stood me in good stead for the rest of my life.

One thing that’s different with his options, even in the decade since I left teaching, is the EBacc. However, long story short, I asked around and it’s basically meaningless. Doing well in subjects they’re interested in is much more important for teenagers than some kind of combination that pleases traditionalists.


While we’re on the subject of education, I’ve been tweeting a bit about the (monetary) value of Higher Education. While no-one needs to listen or read my opinions on the subject, I do have four university qualifications and have worked in the sector. However, as I said here in a write-up of a Twitter thread, I’m a bit disillusioned with the view that universities have a right to exist and everyone should just get with the programme.

Since leaving working in formal education, I’ve been working on product-related things, which live or die by ensuring user acceptance/delight. I know there’s a pandemic on, but Higher Education really needs to be dramatically shaken up. The UK government doesn’t help, of course, by creating a pseudo-market. We’ll see some institutions either merge or go to the wall, I expect.


Over at Thought Shrapnel, I published the following… (🔗 = link posts)


Work-wise this week, I’ve been:

  • Kicking off the Catalyst-funded project I’m project managing which is a collaboration between Dynamic Skillset and Bay Digital. We’re helping three civil society organisations with a ‘sector challenge’ to help remove barriers to remote claiming of Universal Credit. We’ve had to swap out one of the organisations at the last minute for various reasons, but the one that can’t be a core part will still be involved for user research.
  • Hanging out with my We Are Open colleagues. We spent a half day doing some strategy work, which Laura wrote up here.
  • Scaling back my work with Outlandish. I’ve realised I haven’t got time to get really involved in everything I was doing from August to December with them, so I’m going to have a chat next week about my continued work with them.

I also participated in a paid knowledge-sharing session which was very professionally-organised. I gave some insights into a particular area of my expertise, which was facilitated by an agency who connected me with an organisation by phone. They asked me a series of questions, appreciated my insights, and the money should be in my account soon. Colour me impressed!


Next week, I’m sinking my teeth even further into the Catalyst project, and starting some business development for We Are Open. That may or may not involve doing the pilot episode of a new podcast! I’m excited.

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