Deans contribute to sector consultation on TEF3 at HEA Summit

Wednesday, 2 November, 2016

Over the past year the Higher Education Academy has been working in consultation with institutions from across the sector, through the PVC Network, to provide a coordinated channel of communication to ensure institutions could feed into the development of the TEF.

Through a series of meetings the HEA and the Network have orchestrated responses to the Government Green Paper and to the Technical Consultation on the TEF.

The process of trying to influence the development of the TEF was extended last month with the first meeting of the HEA’s Deans’ Summit. The group of 40 Deans representing over 150 subject areas from 30 institutions met in London for the HEA TEF Summit with colleagues from the Department for Education.

After much discussion with the PVC Network about the impact of TEF1 and TEF2, the Deans Summit was designed to provide a two-way discussion of sector views about the challenges of introducing a discipline level TEF (TEF3) and to facilitate a forum for Deans to gain more information about the TEF process and to consider how teaching excellence might be assessed at discipline level.

Dr Geoff Stoakes, Head of Special Projects, HEA said:
“As well as considering the ongoing developments of the TEF: the latest timetable, units of assessment, key metrics and supporting narrative. It was important that attendees had the chance to debate some fundamental questions about teaching excellence that have informed the Department of Education’s thinking so far and feed into the collective thinking.”

During the Summit, Dr Geoff Stoakes from the HEA set out the purpose, progress and current state of play, considering discipline-level metrics and identifying some of the potential pitfalls of TEF3 that the sector will need to negotiate. This was followed by three structured activities facilitated by Dr Kay Hack, Dr Kate Cuthbert and Dr Ben Brabon – the respective HEA discipline leads for STEM, Health and Social Care, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences focusing on  the ‘aspects’ of the teaching quality identified in the TEF specification: teaching quality and environment; student outcomes and learning gain; operationalising and evidencing excellence, in relation to different disciplines.

Some of the areas considered included:

  • alternative metrics which could provide a more accurate proxy for teaching excellence within a discipline context
  • the teaching-research nexus
  • how excellent teaching is currently rewarded and recognised within institutions
  • the role of external agencies in developing and evidencing excellence
  • how learning gain might be defined within each discipline
  • the distinctiveness and similarity of approach to employability across disciplines
  • the ways in which we can develop strategies that promote a culture of teaching enhancement and innovation

Dr Stoakes added:
“All of our attendees agreed that the event had allowed them to voice their views about TEF3 and took advantage of the opportunity to create a Teaching Excellence Taxonomy that would capture teaching excellence within their particular institutional and discipline context.

We are looking forward to facilitating future opportunities to learn more about TEF developments, share experiences and network with Dean-level colleagues and the wider sector.”