TEF is not the only game in town…

Striving for a multi-stakeholder perspective on ‘teaching excellence’

Since the publication of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results in June 2017, we have seen much hoopla across university campuses. There has been the inevitable marketing overdrive among gold-winning institutions and hand-wringing in other parts of the sector where the result fell short of aspirations.
At this juncture, given the government-led policy emphasis on ‘teaching excellence’, it is timely to consider what is being gained and lost through this particular form of measurement.  In order to develop a shared and sustainable understanding of ‘teaching excellence’, we need to genuinely and continually engage voices of the various stakeholders – the academics, the students, the parents, the industry and the wider community groups. It is with this intention we recently organised  a symposium supported by CEPA and funded by REF-Research Impact Development Fund (HEIF) at Liverpool Hope University on 11th July 2017.
The event brought together a panel of stakeholders to develop a more representative understanding of the notion of teaching excellence. The event was attended by over 30 people. As Symposium contributors, Professor Paul Blackmore (King’s College London), author of ‘Prestige in Academic Life: Excellence and Exclusion’, provided a research and practitioner perspective. Professor Christina Hughes (Pro-VC Student Experience, Sheffield Hallam University) expressed an organisational leadership perspective but also a sectoral one as a member of the TEF panel. Dr Ben Brabon (Higher Education Academy) represented the professional body view on how excellence can be recognised, rewarded and evaluated at sectoral level. Miss Ella Houston shared a view of ‘teaching excellence’ from a student perspective. Ms Andrea Pasquier articulated a parent’s perspective, a stakeholder group that is gaining increasing prominence given the financial and practical support that is being provided by parents in the present context.
The measurement metrics are not going to go way but we need to think about less risk averse ways of working together with the view to facilitate real learning. Maintaining the debate at organizational and sectoral level on how to reward teaching excellence meaningfully on the ground needs to be considered.The full report on the Symposium can be downloaded from here.

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