Report of the Annual Symposium of NTFs with CATEs 2020 at Aston University


The National Association of National Teacher Fellows (ANTF) brings together  colleagues who have gained Advance HE’s highest award for individual (NTF) or collaborative team (CATE) excellence to share best practice in teaching and learning and to discuss future trends. The key themes were leadership development promoting diversity and student mental health and collaborative practice within CATE projects in order to build the excellence in our teaching.

In the twentieth anniversary year of the NTF award, the Conference (funded by Advance HE) took place at Aston University. Caroline Coles (Chair of the Committee of ANTF and  Conference Convenor) reports on the event:

“A very exciting year for the ANTF as we celebrate 20 years of the NTF award, and strengthen our links with CATE winners, we attracted delegates from 41 institutions, across disciplines from chemistry to music. We started our programme with some afternoon workshops, then an insightful keynote from   David Kernohan, associate editor of WONKHE , who presented his insightful and challenging views of trends across all UK higher education. We broke for a delightful dinner at Aston Conference Centre that supported us for a full day of interesting workshops and ideas the next day.”

The theme of leadership development started with Debbie Holley,  ( Bournemouth) and Julie Hulme (Keele), introducing the Professors in Preparation group (#ProfsinPrep) then Doug Parkin, a consultant for Advance HE led on their leadership programmes , and Elizabeth James from Berwick Partners, challenged us to consider our ideas on our own style of leadership. On Day 2 Sally Brown led a fast paced group of speakers in a type of speed-presentor round including Phil Race and Helen Webster  (Newcastle ) ( @scholastic_rat)  on how they had built their professional networks and Tessa Harrison of Gatenby Sanderson shared her experience of guiding us into the PVC role.

In the theme of student wellbeing and promoting diversity, our 2 keynotes Theo Gilbert, (Hertfordshire) and Danielle Gallagher, president of Aston NUS have two strikingly complementary views here and here to improve the current issues of student mental health, with Theo advising on how we can embed compassion into our teaching, linking to a later workshop from David McIlroy (LJM) on negative emotions and Danielle providing useful research data and practical tips including various supportive apps, FIKA and Big White Wall.  Delegates presented their practical ideas, namely Haleh Morajev (MMU) re the use of crafts, Zoe Allman (DMU) on the Students’ View of excellence, Alison James  (Winchester) on the power of play, Harriet Jones (UEA) re learning portfolios, Elle Boag (BCU) apprising the role of a personal tutor, Harriet Dunbar-Morris ( Portsmouth) in constructing a Student Charter, Sheila Amici-Dargan (Bristol) with Steve Rutherford (Cardiff) on co-creation while Aston student Abi Fernandes described her personal journey of having to take an early change in her placement year to return from Hong Kong hit by the first wave of COVID-19, that became prophetic for us all.

The role of the Learning Environment was discussed by Chris Powis ( Northampton) who outlined the innovative lectureless campus at the new Northampton building and Jonathan Wilson (UEA) discussed a Marketing Club.

The Association is delighted to work more closely with CATE winners, who are supported  by a new role on the Committee of ANTF as CATE liaison for Mark OHara, (BCU) and, new Committee member, Angela O’Sullivan (DMU), both of whom are double winners having both NTF and CATE awards.

The Collaborative Practice within CATE theme saw some exciting innovations. Angela O’Sullivan and Leisa Nichols-Drew ( both DMU) presenting the award winning Crash-Ed project , D.Patel & Sally Parsley highlighted the key CATE skills of collaboration, and Nick Morton and Juliette Gaunt ( both BCU) gave useful advice successful applications for the CATE award and further funding. Jay Probert    University South Wales) presented ideas for promoting diversity .

The value of the multi disciplinary nature of the NTF/ CATE network was clearly shown with presentations on the use of analytics from Sarah Parkes and Adam Benkwitz ( Newman), John Wheeler ( Staffs) on  police training, teaching excellence ( Mike and Ruth Healey , cross cultural internships (Gita Sedghi (Liverpool)), assessment literacy (John Bostock (Edge Hill)) and Fabio Arico (UEA).

The Committee of the Association would like to thank all contributors, whether presentors or delegates for their generosity and commitment to building teaching excellence and look forward to welcoming you to the next Annual Symposium in 2021.

Links to all available slides are on the NTF Group at ( free registration onto Connect required)

Continue to keep in touch with your NTF and CATE Networks via our the Association Blog at, Twitter @NTF_Tweet and the Connect site where you can read about the latest NTF/CATE work and we would love to publicise your pedagogic research and publications. Latest research and publications: email to

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