HEA Senior Fellowship – Within a Team, make Sure you explain YOUR Impact

Words: We Hear You

In the HEA Fellowship blog, we’re continuing to measure the impact that HEA Fellowship has on teaching practices, on students and on the practices and approaches of peers. We’ve also asked for some suggestions when teaching/supporting learning online!

In this post, Sophie Leslie, Student Partnership & Feedback Development Officer in Academic Quality Services shares her story of helping staff to engage with student feedback and the important role of mentoring others in gaining her HEA Senior Fellowship recognition (SFHEA).

“A large part of my role is to support staff engagement with student feedback and quality enhancement and therefore the mentoring and coaching part of this is vital

My Background

Sophie Leslie
Sophie Leslie, SFHEA
Student Partnership & Feedback Development Officer Academic Quality Services

My role is Student Partnership & Feedback Development Officer in Academic Quality Services, I have more than 10 years’ experience of working in Higher Education focused on student voice, student experience, and student partnership.

Gaining Senior Fellowship of the HEA

As a professional services member of staff, it was important that when working with academic members of staff that I understood the frameworks and challenges they work within and could best support them. I was also involved in supporting staff on the PGCert Teaching in Higher Education and therefore it was beneficial for me to have this level of recognition to support them effectively. I also appreciated the opportunity that it allows for professional services staff to have the same recognition as academic members of staff.

The element that most stood out to me when obtaining my Senior Fellowship was the importance of managing or mentoring others. A large part of my role is to support staff engagement with student feedback and quality enhancement and therefore the mentoring and coaching part of this is vital. Being able to have open dialogue with staff and help to mentor them especially if new to the role has been invaluable, as well as enabling me to build relationships that allow me to better understand the perspective of other members of staff.

Returning to Face-to-Face Interaction with Staff

The lack of face-to-face interaction with staff has required us to change how we engage with them, how we provide them with appropriate support and also still have space for ongoing dialogue. Therefore, more clarity and consistency of communication with staff was key, as well as making all of our support and resources as accessible as possible. Having built relationships with some staff before the pandemic, I was able to continue to build on those via Zoom, but it was at first difficult to build those relationships from scratch when completely online. However, as we all got used to virtual interactions, opportunities opened up to continue building relationships, have conversations and still supporting and mentoring staff across the institution.

Why Apply for Senior Fellow of the HEA?

It is a really good opportunity to think about everything you’re doing and have achieved. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I had done so far, how I progressed my work since applying for fellowship and the areas in which I could focus my own professional development. I found it a very positive experience highlighting all of the impactful and positive work I have achieved. I think you’d be surprised how much you have achieved and how much it can focus your work moving forward.

Top Tips for a HEA Senior Fellow Applicant
Remember to think about how you individually achieved areas of success or produced excellent teaching approaches. It is really important in this process to identify your own role in what you do and not just being part of a wider team. While this is vitally important, it is also a really useful process of reflecting on your own development, skills and knowledge.

For Further Details

Visit SALT’s webpages for details of the internally accredited programme leading to Associate, Fellow or Senior Fellow and for links to Principal Fellow resources.

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