Students Staff

9 October 2015

It’s not only new students arriving at Essex

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Steve McMellor @ 2.36 pm

It is that busy time of year again with the squares packed with new faces as students arrive and find their feet at University. Learning and Development staff have also been busy over the last few weeks organising and hosting a wide range of induction events and training for new staff arriving at the University. These events are both a welcome to our new staff arrivals and also a primer to ensure they are prepared to deliver the excellent student experience that Essex is known for.


Professor Aletta Norval (PVC Education) introduces the education strategy to new academic staff

Over the last two weeks we have had 85 new academic and research staff attend an induction event where they were introduced to the University’s mission and strategic plan by the VC and our research and education strategies from the relevant PVC’s. They were introduced to the support services available to staff and students offered by Student Support, Learning and Teaching Technologies, Learning and Development, the Students Union and HR.

At the same time, in the Ivor Crewe lecture hall, postgraduate students preparing to work as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) attended a two day event made up of a wide range of professional development sessions. 78 students received a welcome from Dr Luis Vasconcelos, Director of Research Training and attended a range of sessions with expert guest speakers. Professor Alan Mortiboys provided sessions on active learning, reflective professional practice and dealing with difficult situations, while renowned voice coach Stewart Theobold ran sessions on the effective use of the voice and pronunciation for non-native speakers. Postgraduate students also attended sessions on preparing to teach for the first time as well as having the opportunity to complete mandatory training such as the University’s equality and diversity and basic fire safety training. The new GTA’s also had the opportunity to question a panel of experienced GTA’s across a range of Schools and Departments about the detail of their roles.

In the same week, 25 postgraduate students attended a one day programme for Graduate Laboratory Assistants (GLA) and Graduate Demonstrators (GD) to better prepare them to demonstrate in practical sessions. Attendees were introduced to the challenges of teaching in labs and practical sessions with sessions with Dr Louise Beard from Biological Sciences and Professor Tracy Robinson from Psychology, as well as staff from Learning and Development. Students from Biological Sciences then go on to have a practical training session in the Biology Teaching Labs with a particular emphasis on lab safety.

This past week saw induction events for 90 new PhD students with a wide range of events to welcome them to Essex and prepare them for the rigors of an Essex PhD and introduce them to the Proficio professional development scheme for postgraduate students, unique to Essex. Two more events are scheduled for the next two weeks, ‘Progressing with your PhD’ and ‘Completing your PhD’ for similar numbers of 2nd and 3rd year PhD students respectively.

CADENZA iconAs part of all of these induction events staff and postgraduate students are introduced to CADENZA, the University’s professional development framework to foster teaching excellence for all staff who teach and/or support learning. The CADENZA pathway is accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and mapped to the UK Professional Standards Framework. Successful completion of CADENZA leads to four levels of HEA professional recognition through Fellowship. Over the last academic year 132 staff have gained HEA recognition through CADENZA. 57 as Associate Fellow, 58 as Fellow, 14 as Senior Fellow and three at Principal Fellow. Learning and Development will be supporting another 139 staff achieve Fellowship over their probationary period.

This professional recognition is becoming increasingly important with talk of a ‘TEF‘, a teaching excellence version of the REF. With the government committing to the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework in England, the HE sector has been asked by Government to improve the quality of information available to students about the teaching expertise of their teaching staff at all levels. As such HEFCE will be working with partners like the QAA and the HEA to collect data at institutional level through the staff record. In light of this you may have received an email from either the PVC for Education (staff) or the Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education (GTAs) asking you to check that your HESA details are correct with respect to your teaching qualifications or professional recognition. One of our main aims here is to reduce the proportion of ‘Don’t knows’ from our record which has been highlighted as an issue across the sector. You can access and edit your own details via HR Organiser under the ‘Update my HESA Details’ tab.

Hopefully you are also aware that you can now use HR Organiser to book all your professional development activities at Essex
via the ‘Book a new Learning Activity’ tab. Details of upcoming workshops for the next academic year can be found on the CADENZA webpages and downloaded as pdfs for GTA’s, PG CHEP participants and general Academic and Research staff. There are also workshops for Professional Services staff and we also have a range of writing workshops coming up to support more experienced academic staff who are required to gain HEA recognition via the CADENZA process.workshops

So with almost 300 new staff and postgraduates officially welcomed to the University over the last few weeks, it is time to start preparing for the January induction events for new Academic and Research staff, new GTA’s, new GLA’s and the annual teaching and learning conference, also held in January. Alongside this and the ongoing programme of professional development workshops, Learning and Development are also working on new online resources to streamline induction, mandatory training and our professional development provision.

You can find out more about the staff development offer at Essex through the Learning and Development web pages, including details of how to find and book workshops using HR Organiser. Alternately you can contact us about any workshops, development activities or professional recognition at


Dr Steve McMellor

Learning and Development Adviser


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