Manchester experts recognised by Advance HE for their teaching excellence

Written by: Joe Stafford

An Optometry team from The University of Manchester has been awarded the University’s first-ever Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by Advance HE, alongside two academics who have received National Teaching Fellowships in recognition of their own outstanding contributions to teaching. 

Dr Catherine Porter and her Manchester Royal Eye Hospital colleagues Prof Robert Harper, Mr Patrick Gunn and Prof Cecilia Fenerty have been recognised for their collaborative work, which has had a demonstrable impact on the teaching and learning of Post Graduate Optometry students at the University. Together they run a Professional Certificate in Glaucoma, accredited by the College of Optometrists.

Education delivery partnerships between the University and the NHS are key to developing the regional skills base, as well as reducing the region’s stark health inequalities. The work of Dr Porter’s team directly contributes to this ambition by educating eye health practitioners in the effective early identification of Glaucoma, which is a leading cause of preventable blindness. These practitioners then work in ‘Enhanced Referral Schemes’ which reduce hospital waiting times for treatment and worry for patients. The team has increased the number of trained primary care practitioners in the Greater Manchester area by 300% in the past three years.  

The University of Manchester and Manchester Royal Eye Hospital have a long and well-established history of collaborative working. We have always been passionate about post graduate education of eye health professionals, to improve patient care and outcomes for all in the Greater Manchester area. Manchester was the first trust in the country to introduce a glaucoma referral refinement scheme, and we are delighted our teaching collaboration has been recognised by Advance HE with Manchester’s first CATE award.

Dr Catherine Porter

Dr Jen O’Brien and Dr Jennifer Silverthorne are among the new fellows named in the Advance HE National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, which recognises individuals who have made a tremendous impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education. 

Dr O’Brien is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, as well as the University’s Academic Lead for Sustainability Teaching and Learning. She is an Inaugural Fellow of the Manchester Institute of Teaching and Learning and leads the ‘Informed and Inspired’ Challenge for Sustainable Futures. A Development Geographer by training, Jen is interested in the intersection between innovative pedagogy and independent field or applied research aiming to inspire and equip learners to ethically address challenges of sustainability, inequality and social justice to make a difference. She directs the University Living Lab, which links applied research needed by organisations with students who can undertake it for their assessment to effect change.

Jen leads Manchester’s ‘Creating a Sustainable World’ course, which is run through the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL). The first of its kind in the world, the course - which is available to undergraduates and postgraduates from across the University - uses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to equip them with the skills to make positive social change and reflect critically about sustainability. It has been recognised by the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, which ranks Manchester first in the UK and Europe and second in the world for its contribution to the SDGs.

It is an honour to have my work recognised. I owe so much to an incredible team of staff, students and colleagues from communities near and far. Collectively we are doing amazing things in our troubled world - there is a lot more to be done!

Dr Jen O'Brien

To have been one of the university’s National Teaching Fellow nominees this year has been a honour and such a great experience. To have actually then gone on to become a National Teaching Fellow is just wonderful, and is a testament to all the incredibly talented colleagues and students that I’m privileged to work with.

Dr Jennifer Silverthorne

Dr Jennifer Silverthorne is a Reader in Clinical Pharmacy in the Division of Pharmacy and Optometry who leads a team of clinical academics, senior NHS pharmacists and placement tutors providing clinical education. Her commitment to inclusive practice in the classroom, programme design and assessment has changed the University’s approach to Pharmacy teaching and influenced the practice of colleagues. Her reach into the sector through work with professional, statutory and regulatory bodies has transformed Pharmacy education to deliver a highly skilled, reflective and progressive workforce fit for the future.

“I’d like to congratulate Catherine, her team, Jen and Jennifer for their well-deserved awards,” said Professor April McMahon, the University’s Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students. “Being acknowledged in this way is a huge achievement, and it recognises their dedication to teaching, and to our colleagues and students.

“I’d also like to thank them for their overall outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning provision at our University. I am sure they will continue to drive forward even more positive change in the future.”

An independent panel of senior higher education leaders, representing the four UK nations, assures the quality of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence and recommends winners.

"Every year as we select the NTFS and CATE winners, we are in awe of these extraordinary and gifted people who are teaching with such professionalism, passion and commitment in higher education - this year was no different,” said Professor Becky Huxley-Binns, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Hull, and Chair, UK Teaching Excellence Awards Advisory Panel 2023. 

“These awards are incredibly important in recognising and celebrating these people and in sharing 'what works' so that colleagues can build on their expertise too and students can enjoy the benefits of great practice in teaching and learning.”

The awards ceremony will take place in Birmingham on Thursday 28th September. 

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