Message to Staff – 11th March 2024 

Annual Pay Award

Campus IT outage

Staff well-being survey

Pothole repairs – campus road closure this week

A quick final question


Dear Colleague

It has been a while since I managed to squeeze a Principal’s Comms in and there is quite a lot to update you on, so bear with me.

Annual Pay Award

Portland pays an annual cost of living pay award on the 1st April every year. The pay increase is proposed by the Governors and negotiated on your behalf by Staff Council, including Unison, for those of you who are members.

I am delighted to say the Governors offered staff 9.78% increase this year and Staff Council voted unanimously to accept that offer. You will see that increase in your April salary payment and also a bit more hopefully with the 2% reduction in National Insurance contributions that should benefit the majority of our staff.

Campus IT network outage

On Friday we lost the main broadband connection to the campus around 12.50pm at lunchtime. This was an external provider issue which is now repaired.

The IT team did a brilliant job connecting key services to a back-up system during Friday afternoon and now they are busy restoring the main systems. Everything should be working as normal for Monday.

Mental Health and Well-being Survey

I have written about the work we are doing on this before and we would greatly value hearing from you again to get your insights into how we are doing as an employer and your ideas for future developments. There is a survey link at the bottom of this section.

Here is a round up of what we did in response to the survey last year:

  • Staff networks were voted the most popular option of additional support in the survey in 2023 – Connections café were launched in July 2023, the most popular themes have been menopause and SEN parents with a review of the format planned in 2024 to increase awareness and participation across the College.
  • The survey reported that there was a lack of awareness of the support available – an awareness campaign was launched in October 2023 with monthly updates on various resources including Health Hero, Action for Happiness, Money Helper, International Men’s Day and World Mental Health Day. Updates and resources are sent out via Connect each month and content added to the HR Hub.

  • Lack of private space – Additional break rooms were made available from July 2023 and a staff safe space is available in Oaks for all staff.

  • More training for managers – A training session was rolled out to all managers in November 2023 to January 2024 to provide them with the skills to have conversations around mental health and wellbeing and how to ensure they take care of themselves too.

  • Mental health and wellbeing conference 2023 – A conference was organised for all staff to provide training, advice and support on a number of topics including supporting learner’s and citizen’s mental health and wellbeing, menopause and effectively managing stress. Follow up sessions were delivered in December 2023 and over 150 staff attended the sessions across both dates. Further events are planned for September 2024 and January 2025. Themes will be taken from feedback gathered in the mental health and wellbeing survey and staff council.

  • Resources and support – A new mental health and wellbeing area was launched on the HR Hub that provides information and guidance on a variety of resources to improve mental health and wellbeing with signposting to external resources.

  • A menopause policy was created and published in September 2023, the procedure provides advice and guidance for staff and managers and a template menopause adjustments plan that can be used to support staff that are experiencing menopausal symptoms.

  • Hydro pool – We are still working on sourcing a lifeguard to allow staff access to the hydro pool, unfortunately this has proved challenging. If you have a relevant qualification and would be interested in this please contact HR.

Please let us know what you think. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and is confidential and anonymous. 


Driveway Pothole Repairs

Estates have scheduled the pothole repairs for this Thursday afternoon (14th March), so the driveway will be inaccessible beyond the Elms and Construction Centre car parks from 4.30pm on Thursday until around 2pm on Friday. Please note the following instructions:

Thursday 14th March – All staff and visitor cars need to move either off campus, or into Elms or the Construction Centre car parks by 4.30pm. Any vehicles left elsewhere on campus will not be able to leave until the repairs have been completed the following afternoon.

Friday 15th March

  • Cars will only be able to access the Elms and Construction Centre car parks, the driveway will remain closed to all traffic until around 2pm.
  • Day Service will arrange for citizens to be dropped off in Elms and escorted to Limes by staff.
  • Staff supporting students, please also collect them from Elms car park.
  • Parking will be very limited so staff are encouraged to reduce the traffic impact by car sharing, getting lifts or using public transport or bicycles. If you can postpone external visitors or move meetings to Teams, that would also help.
  • If you can work from home on Friday, this is a sensible solution to reduce traffic. Please speak with your Line Manager for their approval beforehand.

A quick final question

Every year I really look forward to our Staff Awards event. This is where we get to recognise the staff nominated by their colleagues and chosen by a staff panel and to say thank to the wider staff team for all the brilliant work you do.

We are looking to create a more family friendly event but I just wanted to ask if you would prefer to have the event at the end of the summer term in late July or the beginning of the new autumn term in late August/early September.

Please cast your vote on this link.

Best wishes