When I started working on my bell ringing panel I took notice of some advice I'd been given, which was to write my SOI early in the process because it helps to give planning structure and order to producing the panel. That made sense to me, so I tried it.
First of all I read the ARPS handbook, so I knew that it needed to be no more than 150 words. That doesn't sound like a lot, and in fact it isn't. However, when I attended an ARPS assessment day and listened to SOIs being read out ahead of the panels I quickly realised that 150 words are more than enough to lose the listener's attention. Which is pretty key if your SOI is to do it's job and position your panel for the assessors.
The SOI should give clear direction to the assessors as to the purpose and proposed end use of the photographs. In my chosen category (Professional and Applied) the panel must 'illustrate, record, promote or inform on a specific subject or project'^, and so this must in some way be factored into the SOI.
After listening to several SOIs being read out on my visited Assessment Day I went home and re-wrote my SOI. Then I had some feedback from the RPS. I rewrote it again... and sent it off for some 'official' feedback from the RPS. Hmmm.
I'm now on version four, and I'm keeping five elements right in front of me:
- Keep the SOI as brief, informative and interesting as possible.
- Make sure the SOI reflects exactly what the panel does! (So don't include elements in the SOI which will be impossible to support in the panel.)
- Make sure the final version clearly outlines the purpose and the proposed end use of the photographs - ie. publication, exhibition and so on.
- Avoid references to technical matters or problems (these were included in SOIs at the Assessment Day I sat in on, but are given as a 'no no' in the ARPS Handbook, at least in my category).
- Avoid too many uses of 'hope', 'feel' or other words open to various interpretation.
I am beginning to think that ringing 21,363 changes of Stedman Caters (the longest peal ever rung by one band, taking a mere 12 1/2 hours - a VERY long time to be ringing a bell!) might be less stressful to attempt...
Meanwhile, it is no longer 'early in the process'. Unless I end up deferring again, which at the moment looks increasingly likely. Argh!
I have exactly a week to fine tune my SOI. After which I will post it with any relevant comments!
Any feedback or 'clues' from anyone who has actually written an SOI for a successful P&A ARPS panel would be gratefully received!
Watch this space...
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^Associateship and Fellowship Distinction Handbook, Issue 6, January 2013. A4.4.