Success again for Leeds in National Teaching Fellowship Scheme


Two more academics at the University of Leeds have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships, one of the most prestigious awards for higher education teaching.

This brings Leeds’ tally to 26 – the highest of any university.

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) today announced that Dr James Pickering, Associate Professor in Anatomy, and Dr Samantha Pugh, Lecturer in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education have been made National Teaching Fellows in recognition of excellence in teaching.

Dr Pugh said: “It’s really wonderful to be recognised with a National Teaching Fellowship. I’m very grateful to the University of Leeds for giving me the opportunities and encouragement. It has been an amazing journey since I first graduated from Colour Chemistry at Leeds 20 years ago.”

Dr Pickering added: “I am truly delighted to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. However, this personal recognition would not have been possible without the support and advice from colleagues, friends, and most importantly, the wonderful students I have the pleasure to teach at the University of Leeds.”

The University’s innovative programme of research-based education is committed to developing independent, critical thinkers who make a difference to the world around them.

Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education

Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education said: “The University’s innovative programme of research-based education is committed to developing independent, critical thinkers who make a difference to the world around them

“Leeds is a Russell Group university that has always placed an emphasis on recognising and rewarding teaching excellence alongside its exceptional research expertise. The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme is an important recognition of that excellence and it is with great pleasure that I congratulate James and Samantha.”

Consistently outstanding teaching 

The awards further strengthen the University’s position as a leader in student education and experience: this year the University was awarded Gold in the first Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The independent TEF panel judged that the University delivers “consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students, of the highest quality found in the UK.” 

The University also performed well in the National Student Survey, achieving 89% for overall satisfaction and securing top position in the teaching category among Russell Group institutions for which data was available.

And in the citation for the University of the Year 2017, awarded by The Times and The Sunday Times’ Good University Guide, the University was singled out for prioritising students’ needs first to last.

Improving prospects

Dr Pugh’s work focuses on helping students to improve their prospects in the long term. This includes working with them to embed specific skills into their courses that employers will recognise, and involving both employers and students in how courses are shaped.

Establishing Industrial Advisory Boards in Chemistry, Maths and Physics was a major step in enhancing employer engagement with the University. She is renowned for inspiring and mentoring colleagues to shape teaching through pedagogic research and scholarship at Leeds and beyond.

Dr Pugh has also secured a prestigious Leeds Excellence and Innovation Fellowship sabbatical at the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Digital pioneers

For his part, Dr Pickering has a longstanding interest in student education that started when he taught anatomy to students during his PhD research more than a decade ago.

He then began a teaching-focused lectureship in 2012 and developed his own teaching philosophy of innovating, integrating and researching the use of technology to support students and allow them to engage in core material.

As part of this work, Dr Pickering pioneered the use of screen- and pod-casting his lecture material and frequently uses social media platform such as YouTube and Facebook to disseminate his resources locally and internationally.

Continuing this theme, he was the lead educator on a Massive Open Online Course – Exploring Anatomy: the human abdomen – the first anatomy MOOC in the world.

Although he utilises technology throughout all his teaching, Dr Pickering is also a critical advocate and endeavours to uncover its true role in student education by conducting and publishing numerous empirical studies and commentaries on its use across anatomy education.

The HEA manages the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland.

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