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Post conference reflections

Education conference: next steps

Professor Gwen van der Velden, Academic Director of Warwick International Higher Education Academy

Last month, a range of colleagues involved in teaching and learning spent the day discussing how we can keep building on our collaborative working practices to further enhance Warwick’s teaching and learning experience. Lively debate ensued and work is already underway to make positive change. Here, Professor Gwen van der Velden, Academic Director of WIHEA, updates us on progress.

So here we are, four weeks after the Education conference and its impact is already starting to show.

A major highlight of the conference was a talk by Professor Jacqueline Stevenson (Sheffield Hallam University) who spoke about national patterns of intake, retention and attainment of BME students and black students in particular. More importantly Professor Stevenson pointed out that although national statistics are very clear, programme or disciplinary teams often find it difficult to take action, because local statistics cover such small groups of students affected. Stevenson’s research shows that institutional leaders assign the difference in success to a range of factors which are not grounded in fact, and few explanations related to institutional or academic practices. She described a situation where institutions rarely take ownership of the problems, and obstacles are left in place. Read the presentation slides for more: Jacqueline Stevenson 'Why is there still an attainment gap?'.

It was a hard hitting call to action, and responses followed.

Several Warwick colleagues have spoken to me about their eagerness to engender change. I have taken a particular delight in pointing those colleagues at some of the work Dr Meleisa Ono-George has being driving in our History department. Dr Ono-George used WIHEA and History funding to let black home students speak of their academic experience at Warwick, which has been truly eye-opening. Workshops with staff have followed and it’s fair to say discussions have been heated, and change invoking. A recent conversation with the History leadership brought home to me that this is a department that’s taking the challenge seriously.

Last Wednesday, Prof Stevenson and Dr Ono-George met at a WIHEA meeting where they’ve started conversations about collaborations to help break the mould. Based on research, but with an eye on practice, I believe their work could be of great influence, and WIHEA is committed to supporting their efforts. Watch this space for further developments!

It is only one example of the impact of the Education conference, and more are underway. My thanks goes out to all the active participants that made the day, and the organisers who’ve substantially changed the conference approach to be research based, strategically targeted and constructively disruptive."

Warwick’s Education Conference: three things I learnt

Professor Chris Hughes, PVC Education

Last week saw a host of colleagues involved in teaching and learning join together in exploring how we can work collaboratively to build upon and improve our teaching and learning practices in support of an outstanding, distinctive education. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Chris Hughes, caught up with insite to give us his top three insights from the day.

One of the first things I noticed about the conference was the incredible energy - the whole day had a terrific buzz about it, with a packed programme covering a broad range of tremendously exciting teaching and learning developments. All the plenaries and panels sessions were extremely well attended, involving high-profile external speakers along with a range of expert internal speakers. Many, many great things stood out from the day, but as I have been asked to highlight just three for this short insite reflection, here they are:

  1. Commitment: Warwick’s staff and student community have a huge commitment to widening participation (WP) as a key education agenda. Along with Paul Blagburn (Head of WP and Outreach, Student Recruitment Outreach and Admissions Service ) and Robin Naylor (Professor of Economics) I spoke at the session on ‘A lifecycle approach to Widening Participation: an opportunity to shape the future’. We spent some time previewing our new strategy for WP and the positive engagement and feedback we received was incredibly heartening – we have lots of new ideas (and some new contacts) to help take it forward. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with us.
  2. New approaches to learning: our degree apprenticeship programmes are gathering momentum and interest across the campus and HE sector. I was fortunate to chair the session on ‘Can degree apprenticeships be a catalyst for social inclusion in Russell Group Universities?’, where we had three great speakers Nicola Turner (Director of Skills, Office for Students), Mandy Crawford-Lee (University Vocational Awards Council), and Chris Twine (Academic Registrar, Warwick). The popularity and interest of the session was evidenced by it being standing room only! Thanks to Sam Hardy and his team in Strategy & Policy for organising it all.
  3. Excellence: Of course, I knew it already - but the conference confirmed for me the superb work being done to support education development by the Learning and Development Centre (LDC) and other colleagues across the institution. Heartfelt thanks must go to LDC, and especially Jennie Mills, for all the work put into the organization of the conference. Thanks also for the invaluable support from WIHEA, IATL, the Library, and the Faculties.

I am already looking forward to next year’s conference."

Chris Hughes
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)


Find out more

Watch the video on our degree apprenticeship ambitions

Visit the Education Conference website

Visit LDC’s website

Visit WIHEA’s website

Visit IATL’s website

Visit the Library’s website

Get involved

Did you attend the Education Conference too? Post your comments, thoughts and reflections below: