From the President, July/August 2022
Your new British Psychological Society President, Nicky Hayes.
16 June 2022
I am honoured to have been elected to be President of the Society, taking over at the AGM in July. My thanks to those who voted for me, and perhaps I should introduce myself to those who aren’t familiar with what I do. I’m known to most as a writer of books on psychology, but I have been involved with the BPS for many years, from my first appointment back in 1986 to what was then the Membership and Qualifications Board, to the present day.
My task then was to encourage what was at the time a rather stiff and elite professional body to face a number of developments in the real world, not least of which was to recognise and support the sharing of psychology with the wider population. I began teaching A-level psychology at the very end of the 1970s, and the popularity of psychology at pre-degree level was growing dramatically every year. I had been working with the Association for the Teaching of Psychology to establish much-needed support for psychology teachers, as there was then no official support and very little training available. We felt that we also needed involvement from the main profession, so with the support of John Radford, Steve Newstead, Colin Newman and many others, I became involved with the BPS, was asked to join the MQB, and spent many committee hours adjusting some entrenched ideas about the inadvisability of allowing the ‘great unwashed’ to know more about psychology! School-level psychology, by the way, is now one of the major subjects in the A-level curriculum, and the BPS and ATP both work to support it.
That was all several decades ago, but my BPS involvement subsequently morphed into a number of other new developments, such as promoting CPD for psychologists (it seems weird now to think that at the time it was a new and radical idea!). I participated in a number of new developments, such as setting up what ultimately became the DARTP, and also stimulating concerns about psychometric test quality which ultimately resulted in the Psychological Testing Centre and the BPS Register of Qualifications in Test Use. I returned to BPS involvement after a career break in the 2000s, and in recent years I have chaired the Society’s Committee on Test Standards, seeing it through a period of massive transition, as the PTC adjusted to new personnel and administrative changes within the Society.
Those changes have impacted many of us, and they have been tricky for some. In part, they have been the result of the Society tackling long-standing problems, dating back to the change in the Society’s status and responsibilities with the establishment of the HCPC. But most of all, they stem from the way that we have changed from a relatively small professional body to one that has grown enormously, and continues to grow. When I first joined the BPS, back in the 1970s, we had a membership of about 6,000 or so. Now we have ten times that many members, with over 100 different subsystems and professional groupings. That’s a huge change in management responsibility, and our old systems really couldn’t keep up.
I recognise that there are many who would like to keep the Society the way that it was, and I understand that point of view. In some ways, I’d have liked it too. But we’re much too big for that now: we need collective responsibility for our overall policies, and professional administration and management if we are really to serve the needs of our huge and very diverse community. Organisational change is often rocky, but as we in the PTC have found, after a turbulent couple of years, we have emerged stronger and more professionally dynamic.
It’s been a difficult time for many of us in the Society, and I’m aware that there are still a number of concerns among some members. I hope that my period as President will allow me to listen to and address those concerns, as we pass through this period of change.
To be President of the BPS is both an honour and a responsibility. As I write, the rule changes you voted for this year are waiting to be approved by the Privy Council (there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be, but understandably the Privy Council has been a bit absorbed by the Jubilee celebrations this year which has delayed things a bit). If they go through during my term of office, I shall be your President for a two year period, rather than just the one. So all I can say is – I’ll do my best! Thank you for electing me.
The British Psychological Society
Voting for President Elect, and for Elected Trustees, is open until 15 July. The two candidates for President Elect are Joanna North and Jimmy Petruzzi.