PVCs and the HEA in the evolution of the Teaching Excellence Framework

Tuesday, 6 September, 2016

The HEA has played and continues to play an important role in the evolution of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in a variety of ways; not least through our highly-valued partnership with PVCs Learning and Teaching.

Within days of the Minister’s announcement of his intention to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework, the HEA’s PVC Network approved and enthusiastically supported a proposition to form a now 58-strong TEF Working Group. This group was complemented by two others, for External Examining and Learning Gain. The HEA’s intention was to canvass and represent the views of the sector, particularly of PVCs for Learning & Teaching and those with a remit to deliver the TEF within institutions.

In the intervening time the HEA has provided models for development of the TEF (e.g. the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme) as well as research into the definition of teaching excellence (Gunn) and the mechanisms for rewarding excellence in place around the world (Land and Gordon). Secondly, the HEA in collaboration with BIS, HEFCE, the QAA and OFFA, has helped to influence the design of the TEF through membership of both the high-level BIS Delivery Group and its Working Group. A particular driver for our input was to try to reduce any unnecessary burden for institutions by ensuring that the TEF was a useful process that complements what institutions already do to achieve and sustain excellence.

The HEA’s PVC Working Group on the TEF, which draws on PVCs from across all mission groups, has since been used as a key sounding board for the ideas of policy makers in BIS on the criteria for the judgement of teaching excellence (February 2016) and on the assessment framework and commendations (June 2016).

Informed by frank and detailed discussions with PVCs in Learning and Teaching, the HEA has made substantive submissions to government in response to the consultation on the Green Paper (Fulfilling our Potential) and the Teaching Excellence Framework: Technical Consultation for Year Two. The key issues addressed have been:

  • The relative weight to be attached to the assessment of the common metrics and the provider submission
  • The need to include the UK Engagement Survey and Continuing Professional Development as indicative evidence of excellence in provider submissions
  • Proposals on the draft of TEF Level descriptors.

As planning begins for the transition to a discipline-level assessment in TEF Year 3, the HEA is convening a special meeting of our Deans’ Network to meet with colleagues from DfE later this month. Given that TEF 3 will be critical in informing student choice, this is a great opportunity for deans to bring their views to the table and influence this key stage of TEF in a similar way to the PVC Working Group. A similar model will be applicable with TEF 4 and its implication for providers of Taught Postgraduate courses. We look forward to working with them too. 

The HEA has been able, and continues, to provide a channel for feedback from its subscribers on the development of the TEF.


The door is open to PVCs from subscriber institutions who wish to join one of our three Working Groups in TEF, Learning Gaining and External Examining. They should contact Geoff.stoakes@heacademy.ac.uk 

Similarly, deans from subscribing institutions are invited to join our Working Group on TEF 3. Those not already involved, should contact john.unsworth@heacademy.ac.uk.