Despite being a qualified secondary teacher with nearly 10 years teaching experience, the University of Glasgow ‘recommended’ I undertake the PGCAP when I joined them as an academic – this proved fortuitous in the long run as it was the start of my journey to Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy! On completion of PGCAP I was given Fellowship of the HEA and this opened the door to my CPD training on learning and teaching; at the time, the ‘University Teacher’ post at the University was very new and there were few opportunities available to learn about pedagogical research.
Embracing my Fellowship I took part in a number of studies run by the HEA and others, and attended events such as Differentiated Learning run by the HEA and the Scottish HE Employability Conference where I presented on how to arrange student placements. This led to me being invited to be a keynote at a HEA conference on ESD, Employability and External Engagement because of my experience in organising and running credit-bearing placements for my students (both undergraduate and PGT). Having invited one of my graduates to speak with me at the ESD conference I then invited one of my current undergraduates to co-present at the annual HEA STEM conference where we considered our experiences of placements. So far, 3 students and one employer have co-presented with me at conferences to date.
Attending a student conference in New Zealand, I was lucky to meet a PFHEA from an English University and we talked about his Principal Fellowship – his encouragement and advice were what prompted me to go ahead and apply for PFHEA. For the next year I collected my evidence and commenced writing my application – it wasn’t easy. If I have one piece of advice for someone considering applying, it is NOT to do it on your own – attend a HEA writing retreat! My English PFHEA read through my application and recommended my being explicit in my leadership and achievements – this is not easy and not surprisingly when I submitted the application, the HEA came quickly back asking me to be clearer as to my leadership role in my evidence. I learned that there is no point in being modest in your application, be explicit about your role and how you led or facilitated things.
I was awarded PFHEA on my subsequent draft – hooray! This opened up a number of opportunities. I joined the PFHEA forum and now learn about on-going research and current publications in learning and teaching; I have contributed twice to the British Educational Research Association blog (one with a PhD student – two more are in draft with my other PhD students) because it was highlighted on this forum by another PFHEA. I attend the Scottish PFHEA events and have met and spoken to PFs in institutions across Scotland – I have even learned how to create a word cloud based on my PFHEA application! I have opportunities to attend conferences and training and could be a reviewer for the NTFS, CATE and GTEA. My institution has linked its promotion criteria to the UKPSF and Senior and Principal Fellowships are prima facie for the Leadership and Management section on applications for Senior Lecturer and Professor on the Scholarship, Teaching and Learning track.
So, thank you University of Glasgow, for ‘recommending’ I take the PGCAP when I arrived in 2003 as without completing it, the rest would not have happened! And thank you HEA for the Fellowships which have both opened doors for me in my career.
For more information about HEA Fellowships please click here.