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National recognition for two UCLan academics

27 June 2013

Rachel Atkinson

Dr Helen Day and Francois Nel are honoured with National Teaching Fellowships

Two academics from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have been bestowed the top award for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning.

Dr Helen Day and Francois Nel have been announced as two of only 55 higher education staff to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowships from the Higher Education Academy.

The successful National Teaching Fellows were chosen from more than 180 nominations submitted by higher education institutions across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Each will receive an award of £10,000 which will be used to support their professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy.

Dr Day’s academic identity has been influenced by a varied career that includes employability and English Literature, learning on the language-literature border, writing for children, pedagogic research and research-informed teaching, educational evaluation and staff development.

Helen was senior researcher and evaluator for the Centre of Employability through Humanities. She is most proud of developing and disseminating the UCLan employability framework, a toolkit of 14 employability skills ‘buttons’ with accompanying assessment criteria. She now runs an innovative MA in Writing for Children which blends literature, creative writing, scriptwriting, publishing and employability.

“Being nominated by my colleagues was amazing and reading all the wonderful comments written by my students and people I have worked with during my time at UCLan reduced me to tears.”

She said: “I am astonished and grateful to receive a National Teaching Fellow Award. Being nominated by my colleagues was amazing and reading all the wonderful comments written by my students and people I have worked with during my time at UCLan reduced me to tears. This honestly would have been enough, but it is really great to be rewarded for teaching since that is what I care most about. Thank you to everyone who helped me put together my nomination.”

Francois is a researcher, author and educator who works with innovating news organisations and digital media start-ups worldwide. He is the founding director of the pioneering Journalism Leaders Programme at UCLan, home to the UK’s oldest journalism school, and initiator of the Media And Digital Enterprise project, which is the only UK winner of the International Press Institute’s inaugural News Innovation Contest sponsored by Google.

He has initiated three ongoing studies into the impacts of technology on the business and practices of the newspaper industry, including: Where else is the money? A study on the evolving business models of newspapers in the 66 cities in Britain; Laidoff: What do UK journalists do next? and the annual World Newsmedia Innovation Study, which he initiated in 2009 in collaboration with the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers.

“As a research-active media management educator, I see myself as a boundary spanner, working to connect both the classroom and the wider community with the newsroom, the boardroom, and the (research) reading room,” said Francois.

He added: “In my case, at least, this honour should really be re-named, a National Learning Fellow. I owe an enormous debt to the many talented professionals and would-be professionals worldwide who’ve participated in my courses, workshops and research projects – and to the University for allowing me space to innovate and to continue to learn.”

“I owe an enormous debt to the many talented professionals and would-be professionals worldwide who’ve participated in my courses, workshops and research projects”

Helen Day National Teaching Fellowship

The scheme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, and is open to staff whose teaching or support roles enhance the student learning experience at institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Successful nominees were nominated by their institutions and submissions had to show evidence of three criteria: individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “The 55 new National Teaching Fellows announced today are all an inspiration to me. They have each made a significant impact on the teaching at their own institution, and many of them even further afield. With NTFs from across all the Mission Groups and from each of the three participating countries of the UK – England, Northern Ireland and Wales – I am sure the new NTFs will also be an inspiration to their peers.

“Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a great honour and will undoubtedly lead to many new and exciting challenges, but I believe that it is students who will benefit most from these awards. Our students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is colleagues like those we celebrate today who can make a real difference to their futures. I congratulate all the successful Fellows and wish them every success in their own learning and teaching experiences.”