Profile: VC Award Winner JC Penet

Vice Chancellor’s Award-Winning JC Penet talks about good practice, employability and why he is happiest when teaching.

Jean-Christophe Penet, a teaching fellow in the School of Modern Languages has a number of strings to his bow.

An accomplished teacher, he’s seen his professional practice grow to become a huge influence on his life and on the institution.

Penet, who started life at the UWE before moving to Newcastle to take up a teaching fellowship in 2010, has won one of this year’s VC Awards, recognising his work in learning and teaching, in SML and across the Institution.

JC Penet
JC outside the School of Modern Languages, where he teaches.

‘These awards represent a really important way of recognising learning and teaching and the crucial role they play in the University.

‘I like especially that these awards are not based simply on module evaluations or peer review but on a more holistic approach to teaching and learning, taking in lots of elements of professional practice.’

Some of Penet’s major contributions have been above and beyond the realm of classroom teaching or delivering information, focussing on a key student concern: employability.

He’s worked on two key projects in this area for SML, each begun as a response to student demand.

‘The first was in response to a focus group report which we received about concerns students had about employability.

‘We started by running a networking event in which alumni and the companies our students have gone to work for in the past, come in to meet the students of the present.

‘Often I think SML courses are seen as vocational, that you will certainly go into translation or teaching but we wanted to show that there was lots more you could do.

‘We started a blog, run by Joss Harrison in the School called Careers Translated which looks at all the options with a degree in Modern Languages.

‘We now also have an alumni evening where alumni come back and meet with students to discuss what the options are after finishing their degrees.

‘The evening raises money for the Modern Languages Society, so that they can pay for trips etc. throughout the year.

‘We also organised an afternoon event to help students to meet with potential employers and to showcase different careers for languages students.

‘All of these events have drawn really positive feedback from both students and the businesses involved.’

As well as this event, JC is involved in recruitment in the school, running events which bring together local sixthformers, UG and PG students such as ‘Meet the Translators/Interpreters’  to look at transition and progression between school, university and postgraduate study.

Alongside these achievements JC was recognised for his contribution to teaching and learning across the University and is a familiar face on committees and in cross-faculty groups.

He is a founding member of Newcastle Educators, a group started by teaching staff across the University to provide support, advice and a forum for discussion of all things teaching and learning.

He still views this as one of his proudest achievements: ‘It’s changed my professional life having that community to draw on. Having peers to offer advice on teaching but also books, applications and career options.’

Do you have a colleague who goes above and beyond in the name of learning and teaching? Or know someone who has a particularly innovative approach to their teaching?

Find out more about the VC’s Awards or persuade them to put in a Case Study.



Vice-Chancellor’s Award – Winners Announced!

We are pleased to announce that this year’s Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Teachers Award winners are Jean-Christophe Penet (SML) and Clare Guilding (SME).

Both Clare and JC will receive their awards in congregations taking place today.

The awards were launched in 2010 in order to celebrate and recognise outstanding teaching at Newcastle.

Each year three types of award are made; two for academic staff – a general award and an award for staff working within the societal challenge theme; and one for professional support staff.

Candidates for the awards are expected to demonstrate leadership in teaching and learning and to innovate across the areas of pastoral care, supervision and curriculum design.

Clare’s innovative teaching techniques have already been the subject of one of our Case Studies, which looked at her use of Sim-Man to teaching students diagnostic techniques!

Clare said: ‘I’m delighted to receive this award which shows Newcastle University’s continued commitment to supporting good teaching practice and teachers in the institution.’

She has also been nominated for numerous Newcastle University Student Union Teaching Excellence Awards for Innovative Teaching Methods, Contribution to Pastoral Support and last year picked up the Overall Outstanding Teacher Award.

She has also received the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) EDG Educator Innovator Award (January 2016) and British Pharmacological Society Education Prize (December 2015).

Jean-Christophe is a lecturer in French and Translation studies in the School of Modern Languages.

A founding member of the peer-support network EDUBITES and a committed advocate of peer support for teaching –focused staff, he’s the Employability Officer in his School and runs a range of initiatives with local businesses.

He said: ‘I like especially that these awards are not based simply on module evaluations or peer review but on a more holistic approach to teaching and learning, taking in lots of elements of professional practice.

‘It’s so important to recognise the value of great teaching and to support and encourage that across the University.’

Unfortunately there were no nominations in the Professional Support Staff category this year – we hope that this will be rectified next year and would like to encourage staff to nominate support staff who have made an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching.

You can read profiles of each of the VC Award winners and hear more about what they think makes for outstanding teaching on the LTDS blog next week!

Congratulations Clare and JC!