Celebrating 500 Fellows – Leading Teachers by Example


Joanne Parfitt has considerable experience in educating learners, with a B.Ed in primary education and a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) and a Masters degree in TEFL.  For almost 25 years she’s been involved in teaching students English as a second language in various countries around the World – Japan, Barbados, Prague, Istanbul and Hungary, before returning to Swansea University full-time 19 years ago to teach students in the department of English Language training services.  Joanne’s been leading ELTS since 2014 and shares her story of why she applied for HEA Senior Fellowship.



Why apply?

All of the staff who support learning in ELTS are already qualified teachers.  HEA Fellowship however enables them to gain additional recognition for their teaching explicitly in an HE environment and was a goal I wanted all my staff to achieve.  However, I’m not one for asking my staff to do something that I myself wasn’t prepared to do!  So, I felt I needed to be a good role model and apply myself.  I set myself CPD challenges each year.  In 2017, it was gaining accreditation as an ILM Level 7 Coach.  This helped with my leadership skills and contributed also within the context of HEA Senior Fellowship which I applied for in 2018.


What was the value of applying?

It was an extremely valuable activity to reflect back on my considerable experience of teaching, but more specifically on the various initiatives to lead my department. It was invaluable to reflect back and consider the impact that I’d made on enhancing their teaching skills, supporting them also through changes in responding to student diversity and in preparing for the many external reviews that we are subject to.


What elements of the UK Professional Standards Framework do you find particularly valuable?

The professional values of the UKPSF are particularly relevant to me in that regard, in particular V1 – respecting the diversity of our students who come from different educational and cultural backgrounds and therefore that there are individual learning needs that we need to be aware of when supporting their learning.

What was easy in putting your application together? What challenges?

In writing the application, the availability of supporting evidence was not an issue – I had a wealth of evidence that I could provide.  My challenge was deciding which aspects to pick, as I had so much to discuss.  The particularly challenging issue was isolating my specific role in leading the department.  I see it as a team effort and therefore ‘blowing my own trumpet’ about my achievements for the application was particularly uncomfortable for me as I’m not that kind of person.

How are you continuing to meet the Senior Fellowship expectations?

I’m continue to demonstrate my good standing as a Senior Fellow through my usual leadership duties, many of which I outlined in my application.  I value greatly the enhancement of skills of my team, so I organise weekly CPD time and recently for example we’ve had sessions about promoting our own well-being…if we’re not well, we can’t support our students effectively.  I conduct regular peer observations to enhance my staff’s teaching capabilities and to prepare them for forthcoming external inspections.

One thing that I’ve wondered about is the impact that engaging in our courses to meet the minimum English Language thresholds has on the outcomes of our students, compared with those that come in straight to the University having the minimum IELTS scores already.  I was surprised that there was no evidence on that matter, so I’m coordinating some research to find out more.  Being evidence-based in our work is incredibly important and informs our curriculum and the ways in which we support our learners.

Some Top Tips for future applicants?

Be prepared and set aside time.  It might seem like the application deadlines are far into the distance, but they crop up on you.  We are all busy, but perhaps if you set aside a regular time to write part of your application, then you will get there.

Also, get organised.  I establishes a folder into which I put the evidence I was going to use and that helped me in deciding which examples I was going to use in my application.

My mentor was fabulous too – so take full advantage of the support they can provide.

And some encouragement?

You’ll get an incredible amount of satisfaction just reflecting and realising how much you do in supporting learning.


For more details about ELTS: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/english-language-training-services/


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