Faculty of Health academics receive national recognition for teaching excellence

Two members of University staff have been honoured for their dedication to students’ learning after being named National Teaching Fellows (NTFs) by Advance HE.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme celebrates and recognises individuals who have had an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education.

Dr Cathy Coelho, Associate Professor in Clinical Dental Education at Peninsula Dental School and Dr Lucy Spowart, Associate Professor in Postgraduate Education at Peninsula Medical School, received the accolade in the 2020 round of awards.

A dentist for more than 30 years, Dr Coelho joined Peninsula Dental School in 2007, becoming a full-time clinical academic in 2012. She is the Associate Dean for Health and Conduct in the Faculty of Health, and Clinical Lead for the Simulated Dental Learning Environment, the University’s cutting-edge training facility for dentists and dental therapists.

In particular, Advance HE highlighted Dr Coelho’s work designing and implementing an academic remediation process for struggling students, which has consistently led to improved outcomes.      

Dr Coelho said,

“Since joining Peninsula Dental School I have always been keen to support all students to become the best that they can be, whether that be academically or clinically. It is very pleasing to be recognised with a Fellowship, although I know there are many colleagues in the School and across the University who are equally dedicated to helping students achieve their best.”

During a 25-year career in academia, Dr Spowart has sought to raise professional standards, improving the way learning is delivered and assessment carried out, and encouraging teachers to better understand learners’ backgrounds and motivation. In her current role, she supports doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals to develop their teaching knowledge and skills.

Among her many achievements, Dr Spowart initiated and developed the University’s professional recognition scheme and advised other institutions on establishing similar schemes, promoting participation at every opportunity and driving up standards across higher education. Her work in this area has had an international impact, and she draws on a strong pedagogic research record to influence policy and practice in the University and beyond.

She said,

“It is a great honour to receive this award, after many years spent teaching and helping others to improve their teaching skills. Throughout my career, what has motivated me has been supporting delivery of the best possible experience for students, whether I was working to make learning and assessment better reflect the real world, providing one-to-one support to teachers, or delivering teaching sessions myself.”  

Alison Johns, Advance HE CEO, said,

“I am sure I am joined by the entire sector in congratulating the 2020 NTFS and Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence awardees. All of the winners should be extremely proud of their achievement of what are prestigious, national teaching awards. Their work epitomises the outstanding commitment to teaching in the UK higher education sector, which this year has been more demanding than ever before. Well done to each and every one of them.

“On the 20th anniversary of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, we really wanted to celebrate the diversity of the outstanding individuals teaching or supporting teaching, and focused on applicants’ impact on EDI issues in the Awards process. We will continue this focus in the years to come as we ensure that the awards reflect the diversity of academics and teachers across the sector.”

The NTF scheme has been running since 2000 and there are now over 960 National Teaching Fellows, with up to 55 individuals usually receiving the award each year. On gaining the award, NTFs play an ongoing role in enhancing teaching and learning within their institutions, the HE sector and further afield.

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