Little did we realise when we said goodbye to participants at our postgraduate residential workshop in January 2020, it would be another 20 months before we were able to meet again face-to-face.
Our latest cohort of students who started in January this year, of course, had never had an opportunity to meet in person.
Although we were able to change to purely online delivery during the pandemic, the residential elements are integral, providing opportunities for place managers to meet one another, exchange ideas, and share solutions to mutual problems. Consequently, it was great to get our place management and leadership students back on campus for a two-day residential running 4th-5th November. The residential was organised to focus on networking and knowledge sharing between the students as well as showing good place management in practice via local study tours.
16 students travelled to the residential from across the country to join the teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Business School. The residential kicked off with a welcome and breakfast refreshments, followed by an interactive meet and greet exercise devised by Rachel Nickeas, who helped organise and facilitate the two-day residential.
In the main activity, students were asked to work in groups to review what they had learnt on the course to date and how this had affected their thinking and practice in their work lives.
It was refreshing to hear how students had been able to take ideas and learning from the teaching and put them into practice. Specifically, the group talked about how they had developed a more nuanced understanding of place leadership, acknowledging its complexity and the realisation effective and legitimate place leadership is not necessarily embodied by someone with leader in their job title. The course appears to be helping students identify how to work more confidently with local government and other stakeholders, understanding the blockers and enablers. This underscores the importance of partnership working, which is central to effective place management. Therefore, developing a greater knowledge of place governance and the wider governance structures and issues. In addition, it was encouraging to hear a number of the students within the group have secured new jobs whilst studying the place management and leadership courses.
Overall, the group described how the course has empowered them, by developing their confidence and knowledge of place leadership, marketing and development, as well as critical reflection skills. This is reassuring to hear, as these are programme learning outcomes, and precisely why the IPM developed postgraduate courses in place management and leadership.
Finally, the students discussed how they had developed a better respect for rigour, which demonstrates the value of practitioners engaging with peer-reviewed academic research. An IPM mantra – make evidence-based decisions. Consequently, it is good to hear studying the course is contributing to this.
Following a working lunch, students travelled to the market town of Altrincham using Manchester’s Metrolink. Long-standing IPM members and directors at IntoPlaces Sonia Cubrilo and Penny Bell led the students on a tour around the town. Penny and Sonia told the story of Altrincham’s transformation, visiting local businesses and stakeholders highlighting the changes in the centre.
The tour was wide ranging and comprehensive with students visiting Altrincham Market, which continues to be well used asset and visitor attraction. The group were also greeted by Andrea and Gareth from developers Bruntwood, they explained the recent and ongoing development of the Stamford Quarter. The area is currently hosting the ‘Not So Secret Garden’ a contemporary pop up where people can eat, drink and dwell.
This is the fourth time we have taken students to visit Altrincham with the assistance of Penny and Sonia, so it was also good to discover some lesser known facets of Altrincham’s revitalisation, such as the hidden gem which is the renovated Goose Green square, the role played by Inch Arts, as well as the effective relocation of the hospital to another site in the town centre, which enables the high street to continue to benefit from a valuable place-based anchor.
Stamford House, Altrincham
Day one concluded with a social group meal at The Con Club – renovated working man’s club adjacent to the Market.
Students were welcomed back on day two by IPM Chair Professor Cathy Parker. Cathy delivered a short presentation around IPM professional standards and how the institute plans to develop them through wider consultation.
The morning session at the university concluded with an exercise led by course leader Dr Steve Millington. The exercise involved three volunteer students, Joe, Chris and Gareth who all delivered short 5–10 minute presentations on a topic of their choice. Each presentation delivered was discussed and assessed by the group, providing each volunteer with detailed feedback. Steve also reflected on his own presentation style, highlighting how he had developed his delivery style over his academic career.
The aim of the session was to provide guidance on giving presentations and creating visually interesting slides, to help students develop and deliver more effective presentations. We might use future residentials to provide other activities which can only be done face to face, such as media training.
In the afternoon on day two students travelled to South Manchester to visit the neighbourhood centre of Withington. The group visited the restored Withington Baths, where they were provided with a tour of the facility, together with an explanation of how the community came to successfully operate the baths, adding co-working space, new gym equipment, studio rooms, and sauna, together with an outline of future plans to continue the restoration of the main pool area.
The visit concluded with a short walking tour of Withington led by Steve, who has been involved in advising the centre via IPM's ABCitEs project. The tour took the students around the murals and shutter art, known as walls of Withington, as well as other placemaking interventions that have helped reposition Withington as a district centre. For more about the district centre then see the blog piece and video written between the IPM and Manchester City Council.
Guided tour of Withington, Led by Steve Millington
Our Postgraduate courses in Place Management and Leadership are currently open to applications for a January 2022 start. Please click here for more information about our range of Postgraduate courses.
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