The Teaching Excellence Framework

Written by Kelly Coate & Rebecca Browett, King’s Learning Institute 

This year, King’s entered the Teaching Excellence Framework, which is a government initiative designed to recognise, reward and improve teaching in higher education. The TEF has generated much controversy across the sector, partly because it is linked to an increase in tuition fees, and as such it was the subject of discussion at a Governing Council meeting earlier this year. The decision taken by Council was for King’s to participate in TEF in order to help shape its future development, which we are in the process of doing.

The TEF focuses on three areas of our education provision: teaching quality; the learning environment; and student outcomes. The core metrics are based on NSS scores, non-continuation rates, and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey data. In addition we produced a 15 page ‘Provider Submission’ (which can be read here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/Teaching-Excellence-Framework/KCL-TEF2-Provider-Submission.pdf) to be assessed alongside the metrics. In May we will find out whether the panel of assessors have awarded King’s a bronze, silver or gold ranking.

Key issues for King’s were that London Russell Group institutions tend not to do well on the NSS in general, so although we were in good company in terms of where we came out in the metrics, we did have to consider whether it was worth engaging in a process in which we lacked some confidence. The other key issue was the decision of the Students’ Union to disengage with the process, which we understood and respected. You can read the joint university and KCLSU statement about TEF here: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2017/01-January/Joint-university-and-KCLSU-statement-on-TEF.aspx

While we await the panels’ assessment of the King’s submission, we have time to consider what the likely impact might be on the sector, the institution and individual staff. For researchers, the TEF might seem to be irrelevant. Yet for an institution such as King’s that promotes the synergies between research and teaching, there are many reasons why we would want to ensure that TEF and REF are not two completely separate entities. Certainly TEF has the potential, when they get the metrics right, to focus our attention and energy on improving the education experience for students, articulating better what is distinctive and valuable about education at King’s (including how research enhances teaching and vice versa), and recognising and disseminating excellence where it exists.

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