Improving as a PAT

Despite the skills and knowledge we amass through our experience it is sometimes useful to have a few helpful reminders and resources to refine what we do and how we do it. Whichever method of communication you decide to use make sure you communicate this to students and that they know how and when to contact you. Don’t assume that they will know how to contact you or that they will find this information from another source. Listening to the experiences of PATs, the following four skill areas were highlighted as particularly important. For each skill area you'll find general guidance to support these aspects of being a PAT.

Communication

Communication

Remember to signpost to specialists when appropriate particularly on issues relating to student wellbeing and the need to refer to counselling services. If you require any advice and guidance on when to refer to specialists please contact Lyndsay Sutherland or Michaela Gilmore.

Lyndsay Sutherland
Michaela Gilmore

Confidentiality

Confidentiality

Exceptions

  • Where information disclosed suggests that the student is involved in illegal activity or in serious breach of Academic Partner policies.
  • Where a PAT has concerns that the student may cause harm to himself/herself or to others.
  • In these circumstances, each Academic Partner should have a nominated person, such as a Student Services Manager or someone within the Senior Management Team, whom the PAT can contact.

Managing your time

Managing your time

Where possible it is a good idea to meet students as a group to cover common issues. How you meet with students and for how long depends on what works best for you. Here are some examples of how some PATs have met with students:

  • Timetable 15 minute sessions with each student;
  • Provide 3 half hour sessions over a year;
  • Provide a regular appointment for queries.
  • Meet with students as a group to cover common issues

Make sure that you set realistic expectations at the start and decide how and when you are going to be available.

Record keeping

Record keeping

Records of these meetings must be kept in confidence and made available to others only with students' permission

It is helpful to use a pro-forma to record the main points of scheduled individual meetings in writing which include outcomes or action points. This information may be needed if a student needs to support a claim for mitigating circumstances or make an appeal.

You should keep a record of any interactions with students outside of formally scheduled meetings. A written record of student ID, time of contact, issue discussed and brief summary of advice given and any actions. This can be helpful should a student need to gather evidence for an appeal or mitigation later in the year. Keeping good records also ensures you have a note of when a student has contacted you, what it was about and what you said.

Data Protection

Record Keeping (within ‘Improving as a PAT’)

The GDPR sets out seven principles for the lawful processing of personal data. Processing includes the collection, organisation, structuring, storage, alteration, consultation, use, communication, combination, restriction, erasure or destruction of personal data. Broadly, the seven principles are:

The principles are at the centre of the GDPR; they are the guiding principles of the regulation and compliant processing.

Data controllers are responsible for complying with the principles and letter of the regulation. Data Controllers are also accountable for their processing and must demonstrate their compliance. This is set out in the new accountability principle.

The full version of the seven principles gives more detail about the principles and their application.

Personal data shall be:

  1. "processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals (‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’);
  2. collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes (‘purpose limitation’);
  3. adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’);
  4. accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’);
  5. kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals (‘storage limitation’);
  6. processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures (‘integrity and confidentiality’)."

If you have any questions about data protection at UHI please contact the Data Protection Officer dataprotectionofficer@uhi.ac.uk.

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About these resources

About these resources

The University’s Student Support team and the Educational Development Unit (EDU), have worked together to create this resource of interactive guidance materials, designed to support Personal Academic Tutors throughout the university colleges and research institutes carry out their duties and responsibilities effectively.

This resource is designed to be viewed online, but it can also be downloaded as a PDF document. . A number of small sections can be printed separately and these are indicated by the print icon. It can be viewed on any device type or operating system. A headset and speakers will be required for the audio and video content. The resources have been structured around the four broad roles of a Personal Academic Tutor:

  • Academic advice
  • Signposting and referrals
  • Online module selection
  • Student withdrawal

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

The resources have been developed with the support of many staff outside of the project team including many contributions from existing PATs. The project team are proud of the fact that the resource that has emerged from current practice at UHI.

A number of staff contributed to the content of these resources – some provided source content; some provided advice and guidance and others reviewed the content for quality; accuracy and appropriateness.

Members of the project team were

Ian Horne – Ian.Horne@uhi.ac.uk
Evelyn Campbell Evelyn.Campbell.ic@uhi.ac.uk
Matt Sillers Matt.Sillers.ic@uhi.ac.uk
Valerie Innes Valerie.Innes@uhi.ac.uk
Heather Fotheringham Heather.Fotheringham@uhi.ac.uk

If you have any queries about the PAT role please contact:

Ian Horne - Ian.Horne@uhi.ac.uk 01595 771251
Michaela Gilmore Michaela.Gilmore@uhi.ac.uk 01463 27927

Encountering a problem

Encountering a problem

If you encounter any problems in using the material, please contact the EDU (email: edu@uhi.ac.uk) stating:

  • The name of the resource
  • The nature of the problem
  • The section of the material where the problem occurred
  • Which internet browser you are using.  This information can be found by going to - http://detectmybrowser.com/

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

UHI provides links to external sources of information and may refer to specific Web sites, products, processes or services within this resource. Such references are examples and are not endorsements and whilst every effort is taken to ensure the accuracy of information provided UHI is not responsible for any of the content or guidance. You are advised to exercise caution.

Information on social media websites may also be provided. Staff using social media websites must comply with the University’s social media policy. It is recommended that you fully understand the terms and conditions of use before using these sites and that you take steps to protect personal or sensitive data.

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