Programme Managers and Administrators (PMA) Forum

Your community of practice

As a community of practice, we are a group of people who share a concern or passion for running programmes of study. We want to learn how to do it better and interact regularly.

The PMA forum was established in 2018 as a collective forum for all Programme Managers, Programme Administrators and other similar professional services staff. We share ideas and best practice and work collaboratively to solve the challenges facing us.

We aim to be an open and inclusive community of practice. You do not need to join the PMA Forum; all professional services staff based in departments and involved in the delivery of programmes are automatically members.

A community of (best) practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and who learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger-Trayner, 2015). We are not a committee, working group or task force.

The forum is organised by a committee and, within our terms of reference, are relatively self-governing; if you’d like to see something happening then let the committee know!

Main Forum Meetings

The main meetings are our key events. These meetings typically last between 1.5 and 2 hours and see most of the forum getting together. The meetings are themed around a topic; we’ll hear case studies from different departments, learn from experts in central services, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Each main meeting has time for collaborative work and discussion. We also try to have an element of Continuing Professiona Development in each of the main meetings.

Currently we aim to have four main PMA Forum Meetings in each Academic Year. Broadly speaking these are arranged to avoid the busiest parts of the academic year with a meeting taking place in the second half of Michaelmas, first half of Lent, second half of Lent and during summer term. 

Past main meeting topics have included:

  • IRDAP and Moodle
  • Student Communication
  • Student Partnership
  • Assessment
  • Working from home and wellbeing

During main meetings a member of the Organising Committee will take notes. These notes, along with slides and any group work outputs are stored in the ‘Previous PMA Forum Meetings’ channel of our Microsoft Teams site.

Question and Answer Sessions

Increasingly, central services are turning to the PMA Forum to consult on new developments they’re planning. We’re also often given the opportunity to ask questions about key changes taking place around LSE.

To accommodate these requests the Organising Committee host Question and Answer Sessions. These are typically less than an hour and see forum members posing questions to colleagues from around LSE.

These sessions have proved invaluable following the disruption created by COVID-19. We've run Question and Answer Sessions covering Welcome 2020, residences, changes in Lent term 2021 and Welcome 2021.

Where sessions have been held on Zoom a recording is stored in the ‘Previous PMA Forum Meetings’ channel of our Microsoft Teams site

Best Practice Sessions

In line with our goal to share best practice amongst colleagues, we run a series of best practice sessions during the summer vacation. These sessions are typically around an hour and will see members focusing on a particular area of their work. The sessions will see a couple of departments presenting case studies and then an opportunity to work as groups to develop an action plan to improve services. In these sessions we make every effort to have different types of departments presenting – we might have one big and one small department; or a PG only department presenting with one that has all levels of study. 

Past topics have included:

  • Community and Student Engagement
  • Developing Relationships with Alumni
  • Virtual Sub-Boards
  • Research Ethics
  • Student Wellbeing
  • Student Partnership and SSLCs
  • Welcome

One of the benefits of the summer sessions is that generally people have a little more time to consider improvements to the offering in their department, so you’ll be surrounded by people keen to make improvements!

The slides, any group work output, and other materials are stored in the ‘Previous PMA Forum Meetings’ channel of our Microsoft Teams site

Networking and Social Events

It’s not all about work!

Alongside meetings, the PMA Forum hosts social events. These are a chance for us to relax and connect with each other. In the past we’ve hosted a Christmas coffee morning and summer drinks reception.

The main PMA Meetings will have at least some time devoted to networking over tea, coffee and (of course) biscuits. The aim of this time is to allow each other to get to know new people and connect with other departments. Sometimes we encourage people to network within their clusters, sometimes it is by level of study, and sometimes it’s entirely random!

Microsoft Teams - Our Digital Community

The PMA Forum has a Microsoft Teams site which acts as our digital forum.

Alongside a ‘General’ and ‘About the PMA Forum’ channel there are several channels which focus on key areas of our work. Currently these include:

  • Course Selection (PGT)
  • Course Selection (UG)
  • SITS Surgery
  • Welcome

The Organising Committee will add new channels if they see a particular theme developing in the general channel. If you’d like to see a new channel added then just email pma.forum@lse.ac.uk.

We also use the Teams site to host all of the materials from previous meetings. You can find these in the Files section of the 'Previous PMA Forum Meetings' channel.

Anybody who is on the PMA Forum mailing list should also be able to access the Teams site. If you find that you cannot access the Teams site then just email pma.forum@lse.ac.uk.

Email Distribution List

One of the key benefits of the PMA Forum is that we’re able to maintain an up-to-date list of all Programme Managers, Programme Administrators and related staff. This has proved invaluable in getting information to the people that need to know!

  • Currently the PMA Distribution List is maintained manually and messages need to be forwarded on by a member of the Organising Committee. We are working on moving over to a more automated system in order to reduce delays.
  • If you would like to send a message to the PMA Forum Distribution List please email your message to pma.forum@lse.ac.uk. Be sure to explicitly state that you’d like the message forwarded on to the Distribution List.
  • If you would like to be added to the PMA Forum Distribution List please email your message to pma.forum@lse.ac.uk. If you are a new member of staff it is really helpful if you can let us know whether you’re replacing somebody so we can remove them at the same time.
  • The Distribution List is fully checked every six months. This process involves members of the Organising Committee contacting the Department Managers in their cluster and asking them to review the list. 

Continuing Professional Development

As part of our aim to be better at what we do, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has always been at the heart of the PMA Forum.

The Organising Committee have been working with Human Resources (HR) and have a long term ambition to develop a skills matrix which in turn will help HR to ensure that they are offering training relevant to our roles.  A small sub-group of forum members have been working on this project, however it has been slowed by COVID-19.

Each of the main PMA Forum meetings also contains a section of CPD. This could be a colleague demonstrating a particular skill, a more senior member of staff talking about their role, or an expert offering tips and tricks. In the past we’ve had CPD sections covering:

  • Using your voice
  • The value of non-transactional conversations with faculty
  • Avoiding errors in data sets
  • Automating processes

Advocacy and Representation

The PMA Forum does not exist to ‘represent’ its members to other areas of LSE. This should be done through Department Managers and the Cluster System.

Members of the Organising Committee attend some School level meetings in order to share information.

  • Two members of the Organising Committee attend each meeting of the Department Managers Forum
  • One member of the Organising Committee attends each meeting of the Student Experience Sub-Committee (SESC)

The Organising Committee are also happy to be consulted about developments around the School but will only be able to offer their own opinion. It is not possible for us to canvas the opinion of the wider forum without running a Question and Answer session (see above). 

How we're organised

The forum is organised by a committee and, within our terms of reference, are relatively self-governing; if you’d like to see something happening then let the committee know!

The PMA Organising Committee is selected by a process run by the co-chairs of the Department Managers Forum. The Organising Committee hold office for two years, the current committee are due to end their term of office in March 2023.

The current members of the Organising Committee are:

  • Zoë Adams (International Relations)
  • Becci Ayling (Management)
  • Michelle Batten (School of Public Policy)
  • Jackie Sarpong (International Relations)
  • Fiona Thomas (Law)
  • Claire Tomlinson (Sociology)

You can find out more about the Organising Committee by downloading our Bio and Contacts (PDF).

In April 2019 the Organising Committee ran a survey of members to find out what they wanted from the Forum and how they'd like to see it run. You can read the results of this survey, and how they've informed the decsions made by the Organising Committee (PDF)

Executive MSc Forum and PhD Managers Forums

Members of staff involved in the administration and management of Executive MSc and PhD Programmes are members of the PMA Forum and will be added to the mailing list and Teams site.

However, in recognition of their specialist work, there are additional, seperate forums for these colleagues:

  • The PhD Managers Forum provides a consultative forum in which PhD Administrators and Managers discuss any issues, trends, opportunities and developments of interest and concern in relation to matters encompassing Academic Departments/Centres. For more details contact phd.forum@lse.ac.uk.
  • The Executive MSc Programme Forum provides a space for staff involved in the delivery of Executive MSc Programmes to get together.  For more details contact the Secretary, Jim Osborne.