Sean Bracken, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education (Senior Fellow of the HEA)
Lerverne Barber, Associate Head, Institute of Sport & Exercise Science (National Teaching Fellow)
Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is increasingly recognised as a means through which individuals can validate their commitment to high quality learning for students and research informed professional teaching. For Higher Educational Providers (HEPs) there is a growing realisation that fellowship processes provide a cohesive way to reflect organisational commitment to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). These standards provide a shared sector-based approach articulating the expectations in three core areas of action, knowledge and values.
However, once one has had fellowship bestowed, it can be challenging to identify what that means for future actions and whether there may be implications for engagement within a wider university and sector-based community. With this in mind, the University of Worcester’s latest National Teaching Fellow (NTF), Lerverne Berber, invited current staff with Senior (SFHEA) and Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) of the HEA to an open discussion as to how best a community of experienced practitioners might define their shared roles within the University of Worcester. A lunchtime meeting took place on Monday 22nd of January 2018 and 21 colleagues attended, with a follow-up session for another 4 staff.
Group discussions focused on aspects such as: cross-Institute Continuing Professional Development opportunities; using learning and teaching monies to effectively resource support for colleagues’ learning and teaching development, including successful applications for HEA Fellowship and the University’s own Teaching Award Scheme; and the development of a strategic approach to supporting colleagues aspiring to achieve SFHEA, PFHEA and NTF.
Attendees revealed that they were keen to support other colleagues in the attainment of recognition for collegiate commitment to leadership in learning, teaching and assessment processes. Colleagues also focused on their own potential to provide direction during Institute professional development days especially with reference to opportunities for strengthening reward and recognition. The concept of providing mentoring for colleagues was seen as a particularly important part of the role.
Colleagues recognised that the external environment and internal considerations have increased the visibility of learning, teaching and assessment policies and practices. Commensurate with this is the realisation that the UKPSF plays a pivotal role in informing our practices. For example, developing appraisal processes should provide scope for fruitful discussions pertaining to enhancement of career pathways using the diversity of reward and recognition options available to colleagues at the University of Worcester.
Following on from these initial discussions, a shared Blackboard space has been created where the community of Senior, Principal and National HEA Fellows have agreed to share insights about research, resources and support for colleagues in the wider University. This should add a level of sustainability to the group, which promises to act as a dynamic collegial group concerned with peer and self-professional enhancement for learning, teaching and assessment. Further meetings are being planned and the development of some specific working groups are being discussed.