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Supporting our students

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In this edition of Dialogue magazine, we meet three team members who have taken up new roles in our Student Support Services. They are amongst 31 new jobs created as part of an additional £1.3m investment in Student Support, enabling students to access support in more places.

Welcome to Frankie Hall, Claire Basnett and Michelle McLardie.

Hartlepool born Frankie Hall joins us as a flexible Assistant Student Support Officer working with Assistant Principals in Colleges to support students with wellbeing concerns and to provide pastoral support. Frankie is initially working at Trevelyan College but will work across colleges providing support where needed.

Frankie Hall with his partner Jenny in Chania, Crete
Frankie Hall with his partner Jenny in Chania, Crete

Claire Basnett has taken up the role of Student Support Officer within the Classics and the Modern Languages & Cultures departments. From Stockton, Claire will work with academic and department staff reporting to the new Student Support Manager for the Faculty to help students with academic-related concerns which may impact on their studies.

Claire Basnett with her daughter, Scarlett
Claire Basnett with her daughter, Scarlett

Michelle McLardie from Durham City joins us as a Student Support Manager working in the Faculty of Science. Her role involves working with academic and faculty staff to support students with academic-related concerns which may impact on their studies.

Michelle McLardie out walking with her family.
Michelle McLardie out walking with her family.

Welcome to Durham. You all have experience providing pastoral support for students in your previous roles, where did you join from?

Frankie: “I was Sixth Form Learning Manager and Associate Assistant Principal at Dyke House Academy in Hartlepool before I joined in April. I am also a qualified PE Teacher.”

Claire: “I've worked at Durham for 13 years, starting out on the University’s Apprenticeship Programme. I then worked in several roles, spending 12 years in student support roles, firstly at Stephenson College, then more recently at St Mary’s College as their Student Support Coordinator.”

Michelle: “Prior to joining in February I was a Support Coordinator at New College Durham.”

What are you most proud of?

Frankie: “One of my proudest achievements was completing my PGCE and gaining ‘Qualified Teacher StatusI also graduated as an ‘Outstanding’ rated trainee in 2017.”

Claire: “My little girl, Scarlett! I am a single mum to a three-year-old who is my greatest and proudest achievement. It is SO important for me to teach her that you must work hard in life, but it really doesn't matter if you don't have things “worked out” because we will always work it out together.”

Michelle:  "My two children give me immense pride. Their unique characters are developing and they’re becoming kind and caring little people (with a sprinkle of mischief here and there)."

You've joined the Student Support Service at an exciting time, can you tell us why you were keen to be a part of it?

Frankie: “I've always found the pastoral aspects of education enriching. I have been fortunate enough to share students’ journeys through education and feel privileged to have shared that experience with them. To be entrusted by students to provide pastoral support during times of need and witness the impact that intervention has on supporting students in accessing the next steps of their journey, is something I find personally rewarding.”

Claire: “The thing that I enjoy the most about working in student support is making that difference to someone’s day/week/month/life and seeing how far that they have come on that journey. I am passionate about ensuring that Durham students have access to appropriate support provision during their time studying.”

Michelle: “Living locally, the University presents both an iconic and familiar image to me, and I knew I would feel a sense of pride working here. I have former colleagues and friends who also work at the University, who had consistently remarked on the positive culture here, so all in all, it felt like a good move. It's a great opportunity to be part of something progressive in terms of student support and involved in something new, where I can add value to the student experience.” 

How do you like to relax?

Frankie: “Having a good work/life balance is important to me. I have a keen interest in sport and regularly attend the gym whilst also competing in amateur football. I am also a Hartlepool United season ticket holder. Aside from sport, I enjoy the outdoors and exploring the UK with a touring caravan. I am also keen to continue visiting various Greek Islands and have recently returned from a fantastic break in Chania, Crete.” 

Claire: “I love to travel, to see live music, visit the theatre and eat at nice restaurants. I went to a Michelin Star Restaurant in Leeds that I had been obsessed with since watching the chef on TV and I was lucky enough to be invited to meet him and his team in the kitchen to mark my special birthday!”

Michelle: “Outside of work I spend most of my time with my family. We like to spend as much time outdoors as we can; a beach walk along the Northumberland Coast is a favourite. We have family in Scotland, and travel to see them as much as we can, but we also enjoy a quiet weekend at home, having a local walk around Durham (which is normally punctuated with a coffee shop stop, or two).”   

The new Student Support Services Model will be introduced from the start of the new academic year. For more information about the Student Support Project visit Welcome to the Student Support Project (



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