The first Teaching Policy Forum: a review

January 8, 2014, by Teaching at Nottingham

The first Teaching Policy Forum: a review

Alan Ford: “Along with Wyn Morgan I attended the first Teaching Policy Forum last week in what I hope marks the beginning of a long line of conversations with colleagues from across the University on the role and importance of teaching for this institution. I was pleased to see upwards of 70 colleagues at the first 2 forums and would like to extend my thanks to those who took the time to attend.

“Working at the centre of the University with the Directorate, it’s sometimes difficult to gauge the general feeling of colleagues working in Schools, or to appreciate their the sheer variety of their experience in their subject areas.. As a gathering of minds and more importantly voices, I intend these forums to give us the flesh we need (from all disciplines) to hold together, shape and amalgamate our new framework for the coming years.

“I started by outlining two key background issues. The most obvious headline is drop to 63rd in the overall NSS satisfaction rankings. Though small overall changes can produce big falls or rises in the rankings, we cannot dismiss the NSS result, as it impacts directly upon league tables, and thus on recruitment, which, in an increasingly competitive admissions environment, remains challenging for all universities. And NSS gives us an opportunity to focus upon what we in any case want to do as a University, which is to improve our teaching and learning and the quality of the student experience. A second key issue is the need to standardise, harmonize and simplify our teaching, curriculum, and processes and procedures. This is driven partly by the experience of students – as several staff pointed out at the Policy Forum, NSS data (especially their qualitative comments) suggests that students are often particularly dissatisfied with inequality of experience across schools, notably in Joint Honours subjects where direct comparisons can be made. But it is also driven by the need, as part of the separate Transform Project (which follows on from the Student Life Cycle) that is charged with replacing our student record system, to standardize, harmonize and simplify our processes and procedures. In response to concerns raised about standardisation of teaching, I stressed that the aim is not to quash pedagogic creativity, but to enhance it through reducing the burden of administration, providing managerial efficiencies to give more time and focus to the business of teaching.

“This brought me to the main subject of the forum, the Teaching Transformation Programme (TTP), led by Sarah Speight and Wyn Morgan. With a £1.8m investment over the next 4 years, University Executive Board is committed to providing central support to Schools through an enlarged Teaching Directorate in order to help them highlight priorities, requirements and challenges over 3 key areas: curriculum, assessment and teaching with an emphasis on e-learning. Overall, the aim is not to tell Schools what to do – but to ask schools what they would like to do and provide specialist help, advice and funding to enable them to do it. But there is one area where we will be trying to standardise practices – that is in relation to Moodle, by ensuring that certain basic requirements and templates are adhered so that students have the same experience when using our VLE.

“So to summarise, we want over the next four years to focus upon how we can improve our teaching and provide a consistent and rich learning experience for our students. Wyn, Sarah and I will be visiting each School over the next year to discuss what it is that you want to do and how we can help you. More generally we will also be talking more widely to colleagues at further forums in April and July to ensure that we understand what you are doing and you understand what we are trying to do.”

Alan Ford
PVC for Teaching and Learning

Forthcoming Dates
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25th June 2.30-4pm Sutton Bonington Campus, Plant Sciences A17

Posted in Strategy and policy