My passion for teaching started after graduating and travelling to Africa where I taught English to children in a remote village in Nigeria. I returned to the UK to embark on a career in journalism, but never lost sight of my desire to help inspire young people, soon combining my busy job as editor with a recruitment and training role. I was an examiner with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and then further developed my career to combine journalism and teaching, initially as an external involved in the planning of a broadcast journalism degree at the University of Gloucester and then teaching on a Post Graduate NCTJ course at Gloucester in the 1990s. It was a thrill to see my students move into key positions within the industry and an even greater delight to be able to later bring them into the higher education sphere as guest lecturers and sessional members of staff.
After completing a PGCE(FAHE) I worked as a part-time permanent member of staff at Birmingham City University on a BSC (Hons) TV Technology and Production Course and then, after years of combining journalism with education I made the decision to commit to a career in higher education full time. I joined the University of Worcester in 2008 to teach on the second year of a new joint journalism degree course, and went on to develop a Single Honours BA (Hons) Journalism course. I thrived on the challenge of further curriculum development, and developed a skilled teaching team and up-to-date resources, which included new radio studios and digitally upgraded TV production facilities. The university, as one of the most rapidly expanding in the UK, was incredibly supportive and had the vision to see the potential for such a course. External recognition came with success in achieving industry accreditation from the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. I was proactive at encouraging students to enter competitions and the outstanding level of print work was recognised through them winning a number of prestigious awards. With teaching methodology, I focused especially on developing modules with a blend of theory and practice and mentored staff into adopting this method. It has ensured a high level of student engagement and success rates, with this being evidenced with module evaluations and the NSS. I have also been passionate about forging productive links with the media industry to generate work placement opportunities, including a Media Diversity Partnership with the BBC, established in 2009. This has all helped to ensure high employability on the course with current unistats showing 100% of students in work after six months, with 75 per cent in a professional or managerial position.
I was spurred on to make an application for Senior Fellowship for a number of significant reasons. Firstly, I recognised the value of being associated with the HEA as it focuses on achievement and excellence in teaching. In tandem with this I was aware that scrutiny within the Higher Education sector demanded more transparency around teaching practices. Measuring the quality of university provision will, quite rightly, revolve more around teaching standards. As such, academics need to be able to demonstrate their professional achievements and seek recognition from experts in the field. Thirdly, I am committed to the concept of sharing good practice and feel that this ethos can be encouraged by oganisations like the HEA. I have been a committee member of the Association for Journalism Education for six years, having been re-elected twice, and have had first- hand experience of the value such bodies have within the HE sector. The support and encouragement from the University of Worcester has also been invaluable. They run many workshops and have professionals at hand to support applicants. I found a writing retreat I attended particularly useful as it enabled me to focus on the application undisturbed, and to have someone on hand to answer any queries as they arose. I would urge all applicants to make use of such resources. The HEA website was also a useful resource.
The process of applying for Senior Fellowship was an interesting reflective process. In the helter-skelter of daily academic life there is little time to stop and think about long terms processes and effects. Being required to pull together all the activities that lead to progression, and supporting each with evidence, proved to be an education in itself. It helped me to appreciate how far I had come and to recognise the many leadership skills I had acquired along the way. It enabled me to recognise different types of achievement within a career spanning different institutions and roles. I was able to more fully appreciate the value of all that I had learned and-importantly- continued to learn. Reflecting on my own motivation, I could see that the main driver was a desire to enrich and inspire students and colleagues alike. This awareness is helping me to be more focused with my professional development. I am also hopeful that it will open up more avenues for sharing good practice and for collaborative work in the creation of fresh, innovative teaching methods. I have signed up to a new initiative at the University of Worcester which involves Principal and Senior Fellows meeting periodically to identify how best to develop our practice and to support colleagues with their own development, including encouraging them to apply for PFHEA. The Academy champions excellence in education and can only be as successful as the sum of its parts. For this reason, I would advise all teaching staff to sign up and, if already a Fellow, to investigate the criteria for Senior Fellowship. It was an honour to be accepted and I am proud to be associated with the Higher Education Academy.