The context for the programme
At the start of the project, Keele University was formulating its strategic plan for 2015-2020. Building on their existing aims which placed emphasis on excellence in both education and research, they were seeking to grow their home and international student base through our offer of a 'premium brand' experience for staff and students.
Keele were able to evidence their strength in the learning experience of their students by their position in the NSS survey (joint first in the country for overall student satisfaction). As they were aware of the increasingly competitive market both nationally and internationally, it was considered essential that they maintained and developed the highest possible standards of teaching.
In formulating HR strategy in support of these strategic aims and objectives, it was vital that they considered how excellence in teaching and learning was supported throughout the employee lifecycle from appointment, probation, appraisal, development, reward and promotion and so on. Their interest in participating in the HEA Strategic Enhancement Programme was born out of a desire to consider how the UKPSF could be embedded into HR policy and practice as a means of developing a high performance culture in support of the institutional mission and strategic aims.
Of particular strategic importance, the University had recently undertaken a review of leadership across the institution resulting in a number of initiatives which were relevant to teaching activity. They were in the process of scoping out how research could be led and managed following the submission of REF 2014 and wished to adopt an integrated approach which considered and supported the links between research and teaching and learning.
The areas intended for development
At the start of the programme the University’s Human Resources Department were at the early stages in considering how the UKPSF could be embedded in policy and practice as a means of supporting institutional aims and objectives. They welcomed some initial input and facilitation from the HEA in terms of exploring possibilities and understanding practice and experience from other HEI’s.
An aspect of institutional practice which was of particular interest was in using the UKPSF to support career planning in its broadest sense, from referencing the framework when identifying development needs as part of the annual Staff Performance Review and Enhancement (appraisal) process, to assisting individuals in preparing for promotion. At the time there were very few Senior Fellows at Keele and no Principal Fellows so it was considered a good time to be looking at the links between categories of Fellowship and promotions, career progression as a means of encouraging professional development in line with the UKPSF.
With respect to promotions, a review of criteria was proposed at all levels against the UKPSF and mapping the appropriate levels of membership across, where excellence is claimed in learning and teaching activity. Applicants could and do reference Fellowship of HEA as evidence of their achievements in making their case for promotion but there was no requirement to do so. HR intended to explore with senior colleagues and other stakeholders the introduction of criteria aligned to HEA in terms of setting an appropriate minimum standard for promotion cases based on excellence in teaching and learning.
Another area of interest for Keele is how, as an institution, they could safeguard 'good standing’ of Fellows on a recurring basis. This links both to HR processes but also practice and record keeping. As the project began they were introducing a fully integrated and bespoke HR/Payroll system known internally as ‘Keele People’ which could be developed to enable colleagues to evidence their engagement in and measure the impact of their professional development against the UKPSF.