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Presidential Blog

Restructuring the society

23 August 2017 | by Nicola Gale

Last month saw a series of roadshows in which members of the structural review group travelled around the UK to speak to members about the proposals in the structural review.

We visited Belfast, York, stopped off in the BPS home city of Leicester (where the sessions were video recorded for the website), and then on to Cardiff, London, and finally Glasgow.

It was a real pleasure to meet the members who came to hear the proposal and give us your views.

For those who missed the roadshows, and have not yet had time to read the information, here are some of the highlights, together with an update on what is happening next.

The proposed Senate is at the centre of our proposals to democratise the Society, and achieve a truly member led organisation.

All members will have a representative at the Senate and be able, though them, to influence the priorities and activities of the Society.

We have looked at how a range of other organisations make this sort of body work effectively, from the WI and the BMA, to political parties and trade unions, and how it can be used to put forward and debate and decide on campaigns, issues and proposals that are of importance to the membership and of value to society at large. We are planning a pilot of some of this at the General Assembly this autumn.

Changes we propose to our Board of Trustees will enhance the range of skills at the disposal of the Society and modernise how we do things. This is important for ensuring that the Board is focused on what matters and on actively fulfilling the aims of the Society.

We propose reconstituting our boards into four new strategy boards, with the key changes being a board focused on public policy, and having just one board focused on education and training from early years through pre-tertiary and undergraduate to practitioner training.

We intend, through the changes being proposed for the member networks, to widen the range of expertise represented in the composition of the practice and research boards. All this should improve the quality, focus, reach, and traction in how we use the boards across the discipline as a whole to achieve our impact statement:

‘People are equipped with the everyday psychological skills and knowledge to navigate a complex world, knowing themselves and others better. Everyone can access evidence-based psychology to enhance their lives, communities and wider society.’

We are also proposing some changes to how our member networks are organised.

We propose to remove the distinctions between different types of networks which have become artificial over time and which raise concerns over parity of esteem, and call all networks (divisions, sections, special groups) by the same name (working title "knowledge and context groups").

We are proposing additional Society level networks to include the faculty and interest groups currently within divisions which focus on contexts of practice. These new networks would have the same standing as the Society's other networks and participate in the Senate, Boards, and be open to members in the relevant field across the Society.

Another proposal is to reassess the geographical or branch structures, in terms of branch boundaries, to achieve a geographical structure that is more even in size, accessible for members and relevant to the local context, to bring together members working in each locality.

These will cover a manageable area in order to implement policy locally, provide some local professional services, and CPD, in addition to managing local engagement with studends and universities, etc.

We intend to raise the status of the Society in the Devolved Nations to facilitate our policy work. The motivation for this part of the review is a simple structure that facilitates impact, is clear and transparent in terms of accountability, speeds up decision making, and is better resourced.

I have been spending time this month with international colleagues, the presidents and chief executives of around 25 other psychological societies, at the recent American Psychological Association Convention in Washington DC. It is evident that many of our challenges are shared. Other psychological societies are reorganising to meet the challenges of our times in terms of leveraging our discipline so that psychologists become seen by policy makers, the media, and perhaps most importantly by the general public, as the go-to profession that can help solve the complex problems we face in society today.

How psychological societies govern themselves, set priorities, are open to and collaborate with others, resource, organise, and present themselves to the external world, are all common topics and there is much we can learn by working more closely together.

Back to our own review however, and the next step is to move to a pre-implementation phase to include modelling and scenario planning, and testing of the proposals. A wider group of colleagues will be asked to join the structural review group. We will appoint a project officer full time to drive the work forward. There will be further member engagement. We will also set some clear targets and timescales to achieve the benefits.

Do get in touch and let us know what you think at [email protected]

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