T&L Development Programmes

One (small) step or a giant LEAP? Turning your Fellowship into Senior Fellowship

Whether you already hold Fellowship of Advance HE (FHEA), or are working on your Advance HE fellowship for the first time, preparing an application for Senior Fellowship (SFHEA) can seem daunting. On top of a busy workload, the additional criteria and producing an application through the lens of Senior Fellowship can make it easy to keep putting off. But what if you already have the basis of an application and don’t need to start from scratch? Perhaps it’s simply a step up to Senior Fellowship, not a giant leap.

D3.7 – The key criteria for Senior Fellowship

The key difference in the step up to Senior Fellowship is descriptor 3.7 (known as D3.7):

Successful co-ordination, support, supervision, management, and/or mentoring of others (whether individual and/or teams) in relation to teaching and learning.

This descriptor requires you to think beyond your own learners and teaching practice to consider your wider sphere of influence. In other words, how do you support and influence  other educators with their teaching and learning practice? You might be responsible for the enhancement of teaching and learning in your department, facilitate the training of GTAs, lead a programme or course unit, or line manage or mentor a junior colleague. These are just examples, so think carefully about the impact you have on any aspect of the organisation, leadership or management of teaching and learning provision at the University.

Upcycling your Fellowship application

To apply for Senior Fellowship via the University’s Leadership in Education Awards Programme (LEAP), you will need to present three case studies. But these case studies don’t need to be new: you can repurpose the two case studies from your Fellowship application. You’ll just have to bear in mind that these aren’t yet the finished product; it is important to review and update your original case studies to reflect any changes or enhancement within your practice and to ensure that they’re written/presented through the lens of Senior Fellow. You might even rework one of these case studies to demonstrate your engagement with D3.7.

If you plan to introduce a new case study evidencing D3.7, you should still touch up your original case studies. As these are likely to be your more established case studies, you’ll have a better knowledge and understanding of them as your teaching practice has continued to develop. To demonstrate how you have enhanced your teaching and learning practice since you applied for Fellowship, you might include a deeper level of reflection or more critical engagement with the pedagogic literature. If you later struggle to reflect in the same depth on your new case study, you can be confident that you have already evidenced your ability to embed reflection within your professional practice.

Avoid the common pitfalls

Your application for Senior Fellowship will be reviewed by two trained LEAP assessors and the outcome ratified by the University LEAP panel. There are some common reasons why Senior Fellow applications don’t pass first time, so be careful to avoid them:

  • Lack of reflection – successful Fellow (FHEA) applications require applicants to demonstrate how their reflection is beginning to impact their teaching and learning. This must be elevated further to reach the level of Senior Fellow by demonstrating that reflection is embedded within your professional practice.
  • Saying, not showing – it’s easy to say that you’ve engaged in CPD activity or read a piece of pedagogical literature, but you need to demonstrate how these have impacted your practice. Perhaps bring two pieces of literature into dialogue by contrasting their key arguments and use this to explain why you do something a certain way.
  • Not demonstrating D3.7 – this is the most common pitfall for Senior Fellow applicants. When addressing this descriptor be explicit where you can: don’t assume that your engagement with D3.7 will be evident to someone who is unfamiliar with your work. To help you bring out the D3.7, the LEAP recommend that you focus one of your three case studies on this descriptor. However, you might be in a role that makes it difficult to isolate one case study. If that is the case, make sure you weave D3.7 throughout you entire application.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to recognise great teaching practice amongst colleagues, but sometimes we need to put our modesty aside and celebrate our own achievements. If you need a gentle push to get started on your application, take advantage of the support offered by the LEAP team. Attending a Senior Fellow workshop is a great way to build a peer support network and, when you’re ready, you can ask for a mentor to feedback on one complete draft of your application.

Whether you teach or support the delivery of teaching and learning, now might be the time to progress your Fellowship into a Senior Fellowship. It’s not a simple hop, but neither is it a giant leap. It’s a step you should be proud to take.

With thanks to Dr Nicholas Weise SFHEA and Holly Dewsnip AFHEA for their significant contribution to this article. Colleagues at The University of Manchester can apply for Senior Fellowship via the Leadership in Education Awards Programme (LEAP).


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