In this blog posting Dr Rebecca Turner and Prof. David Gosling examine how a national policy initiative attempted to promote the agenda for rewarding excellent teaching within the UK. It considers the interplay between national policy and local agenda and the implications for achieving change in higher education
This entry is based on the article: “Rewarding Excellent Teaching: the translation of a policy initiative in the United Kingdom. Higher Education Quarterly, 44 (4) 415-430.
There is a well-rehearsed argument that systems of reward for teaching and learning and for research should be more equitable. Since the 1970’s policymakers have been calling for increased recognition to be given to those who are excellent teachers because of the role they play in educating future generations. However, despite the prevalence of awards for teaching, and the growth of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, recognition for teaching still appears to be falling behind that of research, with increasing fears of the implications of this for teaching quality – as highlighted in a recent article by Vassiliou & McAleese (2012).
In the UK, under the New Labour government, considerable attention was paid to the issues of teaching quality from the late 1990’s. There were several national initiatives with the dual purpose of promoting and rewarding high quality teaching and learning. The largest of these was the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative, introduced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2004. The declared purpose of the initiative was to reward excellent teaching and to invest in the identified excellent practice in order to increase and deepen its impact. The CETLs were awarded after a two-stage competitive bidding process in which a case was made for self-identified excellence within or across a network of institutions. In 2005, 74 CETLs were awarded, each receiving up to £500,000 annually with an initial capital investment of up to £2 million. This in itself marked the CETL initiative out as significant because it was the most generously funded initiative targeted at improving teaching there had ever been.