The context for the programme
The University of Greenwich has long been committed to professional development and professional recognition in learning and teaching. The University has an established international PGCert in HE programme which has been accredited by the HEA for over 12 years. Since 2012, the University’s Greenwich Opportunities in Learning Development (GOLD) Framework has successfully supporting academic and professional services staff to gain professional recognition against all 4 levels of Fellowship. The University is meeting its performance target to increase the percentage of academic staff with an accredited teaching qualification from 20% to 75% by 2017. However, they recognise that in order to engage their staff further, it is essential that there are appropriate processes and progression routes in place in order to communicate the value of professional development and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement. The HEA re-accredited their GOLD scheme in August 2015, so coupled with their target of staff achieving qualification through Fellowship, and the desire to align their scheme further with people-focused policies and practices, they believed it would be highly beneficial to engage with the HEA in this pilot study.
The University has recently reviewed its recruitment and appraisal procedures resulting in the introduction, in March 2016, of an online appraisal system which streamlines the appraisal process. This system provides greater opportunity for more detailed feedback from line managers, whilst allowing for a stronger voice for all employees at the University, who can take even greater ownership, and accountability, of their professional development.
In addition, in spring 2016 the University began a programme of work to articulate career pathways for academic and professional services staff. Career pathways would show the expectations that the University has at each level of academic and professional careers, provide a framework for personal and professional development, and support the implementation of clear and transparent promotion routes aligned for staff on academic contracts with HEA Fellowship. They have chosen initially to focus on academic career pathways on the basis that they have substantial evidence from the Athena Swan survey, the Employee Engagement Survey, feedback from Grading Review panels and consultation around the People Strategy that this is the area of most immediate concern, and they have committed to career pathway development in the Athena Swan action plan. They will then work on equivalent pathways for the professional services.
They understand that many other institutions are in a similar position to us, and valued the opportunity to share experience and learn from others.
The areas intended for development
One of the key areas identified was to develop processes where professional recognition was explicitly discussed and integrated across staff progression lifecycle. This was so that staff became aware of the of the importance of meeting the sector benchmarks for teaching and enhancement, as well as preparing the University itself to support their staff though the process of achieving good standing, as this became part of the HEA.
Intended areas for development were to include the following:
- How professional recognition could be embedded into the pre-existing recruitment and probation processes;
- An increased presence of learning and teaching activities at academic staff induction events and aligning career management activities with the UKPSF where appropriate;
- Ensuring that professional recognition is included as part of the appraisal process;
- Aligning teaching excellence with reward and recognition;
- Developing clear progression routes for academic staff at all top levels up to National Teaching Fellowship or Professor in Teaching and Learning.