The road to HEA senior fellowship: a view from a recent researcher/teaching academic convert.

andrew-knightIt is important for Higher Education Institute (HEI) academics who are involved in teaching and learning to be able to demonstrate that their practice is both effective and meets professional standards. One way in which Newcastle, and many other HEI, actively encourage academics to evidence this, is through the award of Higher Education Academy (HEA) fellowships that recognise a commitment to both these key qualities.

What is an FPLO?
In 2013 I became a Faculty Programme Liaison Officer (FPLO), working as part of a team of cross-Faculty academics alongside the Learning & Teaching Development Service (LTDS) to support and mentor staff undertaking the CASAP programme route for HEA recognition.  FPLOs assist CASAP participants, in a process of documenting both reflection and evidence related to their teaching practice, as part of their application for HEA fellowship status.

Sharing our experience with Dundee University
In May I was invited to speak about my career path to an HEA Senior Fellowship Award as part of Dundee University’s Life and Biomedical Sciences Education seminar series.  I have been working with colleagues in Dundee as they decide which approach to HEA fellowship applications they will take as an institution.  The seminar was a perfect opportunity to discuss the various procedures involved in documenting evidence for applications and there was much lively discussion.  I’d like to thank Dr Rosa Spencer, LTDS, for her invaluable help in preparing my presentation for this seminar.

My journey to HEA Senior Fellowship
My personal career journey has taken me from laboratory-based researcher to a teaching academic. Starting as an immunogenetics PhD student at the MRC Clinical Research Centre and then post-doctoral research assistant in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Dundee, I took up my first academic appointment as a principle investigator (PI) and honorary lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

Teaching commitments at Edinburgh initially were limited to the supervision of Level 6 BSc students during their laboratory-based projects. I then joined the team delivering the Biological Sciences BSc Programme and I added non-laboratory based teaching to my portfolio. I also completed the Edinburgh University’s Introduction to Learning and Teaching programme and gained a Professional Certificate in University Teaching.

In 2005 I joined Newcastle University, initially in the Institute of Cellular Medicine, again as a research focussed PI, and am now currently based in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Whilst at Newcastle I have been involved in PG/UG student laboratory supervision, delivering taught MRes programme content and curriculum planning/teaching on the Biomedical Sciences BSc Honours programme. In October 2016 I was awarded an HEA Senior Fellowship as recognition of my commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning.

Andrew Knight, School of Biomedical Sciences

Using technology to help deliver teaching and facilitate learning

In May the Faculty Learning and Teaching Forum, (Show & TEL) was dedicated to showcasing a range of technologies that enhance the delivery of both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching here at Newcastle University. If you didn’t make it to the forum, here’s a handy list of what’s available and where you can find help and support.


Student Response System: OMBEA
Lecture Capture and beyond: ReCAP
Virtual Classroom: Adobe Connect
Online learning: Blackboard
Online learning: Future Learn online‐
Online learning: Ngage
Online learning: Interactive
Turnitin /Grademark


If you want more information about individual sessions go to the L&T internal webpage:

Some of the comments from forum delegates included:

“I had not heard of OMBEA before. I look forward to using it in my lectures”

“I was amazed to learn that ReCap can be used in the way shown in this session”

“it was good to see how Adobe Connect works from both university and student perspective.”





Being John Whitworth

john-whitworth3What route has your career taken to get you where you are today?
I was asked to talk for an hour on this a few years ago and illustrated my career as a piece of unfinished, multi-coloured knitting. The various strands of my work have interwoven without a neat or recognizable pattern, but have reinforced and linked with each other to make something that I hope is strong, coherent and useful.

I qualified BChD (hons) from Leeds in 1984 and was inspired and encouraged by teachers to pursue a clinical academic career. Early years were dominated by clinical experiences and Royal College Fellowship examinations, before immersing myself in a full-time microbiology PhD at Edinburgh Medical School from 1986-99. During that time, I married Janet, who has supported and carried me every step of the way. We came to Newcastle for 1 year in 1999 to consolidate clinical skills and have stayed ever since. My career has been marked by unexpected interactions and opportunities, and I could list many individuals and organisations that have inspired, encouraged and cajoled me at key moments. Professor Ian Barnes first drew me into Endodontology and taught me the value of international collaboration during 2 weeks of orientation in the Netherlands, while the British and European Endodontic Societies gave me opportunities to teach and share enthusiasms. Professor Robin Seymour granted me a 6 month sabbatical at the University of Texas, San Antonio and unlocked clinical and scholarly collaborations that have been foundational. Numerous editors have chosen to involve me in established textbooks, and a succession of bright and able researchers have allowed me to collaborate on a broad patchwork of projects. In all of this, I have been conscious of the privileges of public service, the joys of working every day with bright and enquiring students and providing the best clinical services possible for members of the public. There really hasn’t been much premeditated planning, but my career has been defined by the people who have supported, linked and opened doors. And as I approach my concluding chapter of paid employment, I’m conscious more than ever of the opportunities I need to facilitate for others.

What do you find most challenging about working in HE learning and teaching?
Keeping the plates spinning. The conflicting demands of Consultant clinical practice, undergraduate and postgraduate education, pastoral care, engagement, personal and supervised research, in addition to national and international scholarly and administrative roles sometimes feels like a circus act. But there are two ways of looking at it – that you’re not as good as you’d like to be in any of your roles, or that you’re privileged to have a varied and interesting career with at least one element going well at all times. Challenge isn’t always a bad thing, it motivates, energises and leaves you without a dull moment. And it’s important to remember that we’re public servants, paid by the tax payer to work hard and serve to the best of our abilities in our various roles. It’s also worth remembering that it is me who has not yet learned to say no.

What’s the best thing you’ve been involved in since you started working with Newcastle University?
That’s quite easy. The School of Dental Sciences in Newcastle is a close-knit, engaged and vibrant community that respects diverse skill sets and treats people as valuable human beings. It is a deep privilege, every day, to be part of a positive and constantly evolving team, to be appreciated and appreciate others in all of our diverse roles.

What’s the wisest piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor or colleague?
Always prepare, no matter how well acquainted you are with the subject.

To prepare well is to recognise and honour those we are serving, both in terms of teaching materials and the spirit in which we conduct ourselves.

What’s your top educational research interest?
My first is to understand more fully the spiralling levels of anxiety, depression and low self esteem that are robbing so many dazzling young people of their formative years. Unlocking the individual and societal factors at play will be a lengthy task but one in which those involved in the nurture of young people should be interested.

I’m also greatly engaged in skills acquisition, and how best to develop the refined personal and tactile skills required to deliver exacting operative procedures. Nowhere is that more so than in clinical endodontology, and exciting developments in digital imaging, including haptic simulation may hold exciting opportunities for the future.

If you could have dinner with 3 famous people from history who would they be?
If I’m honest, I’d be quite happy to have dinner in the back garden, on a warm evening, with my wife and two grown-up kids – a rare privilege these days.

I imagine dinner involving Jesus of Nazareth, CS Lewis and Ötzi, the iceman of Bolzano may be enlightening. We should need a team of translators and food consultants and a space outside for CS Lewis to light-up between courses.

John Whitworth
Professor of Endodontology/hon Consultant in Restorative Dentistry
Director of Student Progress and Support
Engagement Lead
School of Dental Sciences

Dental School presents 3 research projects in San Francisco






The 95th Annual Meeting of the IADR took place in San Francisco in March 2017.

Professors Mark Thomason, Janice Ellis and Dr Richard Holmes from the School of Dental Sciences all presented their educational research to this international audience.

Professor Thomason gave an oral presentation relating to the challenges and opportunities of working with a large cohort of part-time teachers. His presentation generated must discussion and was of value to many of the audience who face similar situations.

Professor Ellis presented a poster which described a novel method of collecting patient feedback on Newcastle University Dental undergraduate’s performance – Just One Thing. The poster was well received with many interested colleagues taking the time to talk about the work and how it could be applied to their own institutions and programmes.

Dr Holmes gave an excellent presentation on a joint student exchange initiative with Indiana dental school. Once gain there was much discussion with an enthusiastic audience who seemed to want to be able to duplicate a similar opportunity in their own programmes.

The conference also offered multiple networking opportunities, not least of which was the opportunity to host a UK dental education research symposium. This will take place on the 16rth June and we look forward to reporting back on that later this year.