Cerian Ayres, the Education and Training Foundation’s (ETF) National Head of Technical Education, reflects on a recent event which celebrated the success of four new Technical Teaching Fellowship awardees and highlighted the progress and impact of two previously awarded Fellows.
On 31 January 2020, an event to celebrate the success of Technical Teaching Fellowship awardees took place in London at the Royal Society; the home of the oldest national scientific institution in the world.
It provided a fitting setting for the event, which brought together national stakeholders and representatives from a range of organisations which support Technical (STEM) education and development in the UK.
The Technical Teaching Fellowship programme is funded by a partnership between the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to promote excellence in industrial and technical education.
The celebration event included speeches and presentations which gave context for the work of both funding partners and for the establishment of this unique partnership. I was pleased to open the event by outlining the role of the ETF in supporting teachers, managers and leaders in the Further Education and Skills sector, to become highly effective deliverers of technical education, recognising the demands for advanced technical and STEM skills, at a time of emerging and disruptive technologies.
Nigel Williams, Secretary of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, gave attendees a fascinating account of the history of his organisation, dating from its establishment by Queen Victoria in order to create and organise the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, to its modern legacy of recognising and supporting industrial and scientific excellence in individuals.
There were also presentations from the first Technical Teaching Fellows: Stephen Mariadas from Exeter College, who has been blazing a trail for data science with his work over the past year, and James Maltby, from Plumpton College, who has achieved national recognition for his work on blended and immersive learning technologies.
David Russell, Chief Executive Officer at the ETF, congratulated the existing Fellows for their work so far and welcomed the award of new Fellowships in 2020, noting the impact of the national recognition provided by the Fellowships programme and its effectiveness in encouraging outstanding practice in the FE and Skills sector.
Four new Fellowships were awarded to recognise exceptional individual practice at Petroc, Sheffield, Lakes and North Hertfordshire colleges. The new Fellows will receive financial awards to support their activity and develop further their work to achieve maximum impact, promoting a model of professional excellence in their delivery of technical education.
Dr Lynda Broomhead, from Petroc, is focusing her Fellowship upon producing a STEM-based integrated ‘problem solving’ resource with input from employers and universities. It will enable co-curriculum, design and delivery. In addition, it will support staff and employer T Level readiness and provide enrichment and enhancement activities. Lynda enjoyed the event enormously:
“What an amazing day Friday was, I think I took the whole weekend to process it all. My overriding experience from the award celebration was what an amazing opportunity to meet such supportive, inspirational people in such a historic building, surrounded by the faces of history’s scientific leaders. I am so excited about the opportunity this Fellowship will offer us all to make a real difference.”
Nicholas Hart, from Sheffield College, proposes to build an immersive resource to compliment the teaching of health and safety. The resource will be built with the co-operation of local businesses who will also be able to use the resource in their staff training.
Nick says: “The day was fascinating, daunting, inspiring and I felt incredibly privileged to be part of it. Meeting the other Fellows was fantastically reassuring as some of my emotions were echoed by them, which I have a feeling will be a common theme over the coming year!”
At Lakes College, Chris Fairclough’s Fellowship will give a dedicated focus on highlighting and disseminating the advantages of the National College for Nuclear’s Experiential Learning Model for incorporating Nuclear-specific behaviours within curriculum and the learning environment. This will enhance the learning experience and ensure that the students develop their soft skills as well as their technical knowledge in a safe learning environment without real world radiological implications.
Chris is relatively new to education and a recent graduate of the ETF’s SET for Teaching Success programme. He says: “To receive a Fellowship, having only been in education for no longer than four years, is rather humbling. The celebration event was fantastic and a great opportunity to thank those who I have had previous contact with for their continued support within education, as well as to discuss the experiences of last year’s Fellows. The speech about the history of The Commission was brilliant and it started to hit home rather quickly how prestigious it actually is being awarded the Fellowship.”
Pioneering work at North Hertfordshire College has provided Shell Fearn with an excellent foundation to launch her new Fellowship. Shell explains:
“My aim is to use the ExoMars Rover project as a case study to link back to opportunities in STEM careers. This will be achieved through expansion of our current program of immersive activity, using advanced manufacturing technologies (particularly robotics, 3D printing and Bio-clean working environments) and drawing on industry links with local, national and international employers to make a tangible experience for students. The plan is to analyse the successful aspects of interactions with students and industry to develop a blueprint that can be used by other education professionals.”
Together with all the new Fellows, Shell found the day’s events inspiring and rewarding:
“Today's event at the Royal Society could easily have been overwhelming; it wasn't until I arrived that the prestige of the award really hit home, but everyone was so enthusiastic and supportive and interested in sharing ideas that I am now just extremely excited to be involved in this amazing opportunity. Meeting the other Fellows, past and present, was fantastic. Everyone has such diverse and incredible projects; it was so inspiring to hear about them. I feel incredibly privileged to be counted amongst their numbers.”
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