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First Success on New Route to PFHEA


DCAD are delighted to announce a new route to Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) assessed through either a dialogue or a written application reflecting on their strategic leadership of Education within (or beyond) the institution and to congratulate Professor Simon Rees (Head of Academic Development) on gaining PFHEA status through this new route.

The Principal Fellowship of Advance HE (PFHEA) is one of the most prestigious honours conferred upon professionals in the higher education sector. Specifically designed to recognise and celebrate individuals who have made a sustained and effective impact in the realm of academic leadership, this fellowship stands as a hallmark of excellence in higher education pedagogy and practice.

The Dialogic Assessment Route—overseen by DCAD’s Professional Recognition Pathway (PRP)—is an innovative new approach to evaluating academic professionalism for PFHEAs. It employs dialogic interaction, reflective practice, and deliberative engagement, thereby facilitating a nuanced and multi-dimensional assessment of an academic’s contributions to the field measured against the new Professional Standards Framework 2023. Significantly, the assessment process included the scrutiny of External Examiners Prof Sam Smidt (PFHEA) of King’s College London and internal examiner Prof Stan Taylor (PFHEA), chaired by Prof Sam Nolan, DCAD Director. 

Simon’s insights on the dialogue include “I was nervous about the discussion beforehand but found the experience really rewarding. It was a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences leading teaching and learning”

PRP Lead, Associate Prof Teti Dragas says “I am thrilled to have this new category offered through the Pathway and to be offering both written and dialogic assessment routes for Principal Fellowship. Simon did an excellent job and is thoroughly well-deserved but for me what was particularly great to see was how well the dialogue worked in practice. Simon’s dialogue (witnessed first-hand!) was a real opportunity to reflect on his journey in academic leadership and was genuinely a meaningful, rewarding and enlightening discussion amongst supportive colleagues. The new PSF2023 and particularly the category of Principal Fellowship has been revised and is a lot more open to colleagues from a range of academic career pathways so we are excited to welcome more Principal Fellows at Durham. Our official PSF2023 relaunch will coincide with the start of term and we will be putting on a range of information sessions on all categories of Fellowship and on the new routes available that we would welcome anyone to come along to.

DCAD Director and Panel Chair, Prof Sam Nolan concurs “The conferral of the Principal Fellowship of Advance HE represents an apex of achievement in higher education, underscoring commitment to pedagogical innovation and strategic educational leadership, which Simon has evidenced in spades. The inauguration of the Dialogic Assessment Route within our Professional Recognition Pathway at DCAD marks a pivotal moment for Durham University. We’re excited to announce that this route is now accessible to strategic educational leaders across the University. Its nuanced and dialogic approach offers a unique avenue for recognising and fostering academic excellence at multiple levels. This not only enriches our institutional standing but also contributes to the advancement of teaching and learning practices in the broader academic community.

This route is now open to those seeking PFHEA for their strategic leadership of education within Durham, for more information visit the Sharepoint Site.