In June the BCFA’s new website was launched.  This replaced the old BCFA website that  had been created using software no longer supported by the British Council digital team and which had become liable to “crashes”.  The new website has been build using Solas, a system used across the British Council network which means that any technical issues will be fully supported.  It also has the advantage of being easy for the BCFA manager to edit and upload pages.  Those members who have looked at the new site will see that it is sleek and has a more ‘corporate’ look about it.

The downside however, is that the BCFA website is part of the ‘public face’ of the British Council and is no longer a site only accessible to members.  This has some advantages; anyone considering the British Council as an employer can see that there is support for partners, spouses and families when they are posted overseas.  Moreover, if you do a Google search on ‘British Council Families Association’ you will now be able to find the website.  However, it also means that some of the documentation and newsletters are less readily available once you are on the BCFA website compared to previously.  At present it is only possible with the current version of Solas to put a password on an individual document, rather than on a page where the documents are.   This of course means it is rather cumbersome and time-consuming to upload and password protect our archive of newsletters, for example.  In time the British Council should upgrade to a version of Solas where it will  be possible to password protect pages, meaning that members would just need to enter a password once to access that page rather than each time they want to access a document.

In the short term newsletters for the past year, AGM minutes for the past two years and other essential documentation and information about the BCFA is accessible on the BCFA Facebook page.  Whilst the committee recognises that not all BCFA members  are on Facebook, nonetheless we felt that this was the easiest solution in the short term and might encourage more members to join the group.  We hope that it makes it easier for members to communicate and to comment on and raise questions about issues as they arise.

The committee also recognises that some members have concerns about Facebook and privacy.  Being a member of the BCFA Facebook group does not mean that you are ‘friends’ with all the other members of the group.  The BCFA manager ‘invites’ members to the group by providing a link rather than adding them as a ‘friend’ of Jane Gatekeeper (BCFA manager’s persona for the purpose of administering the group).  Members with concerns about their privacy should ensure that their privacy settings are at a level that restrict what is publicly visible.  

Liz Fotheringham