In recent years, programme leadership emerged, tentatively, from the institutional shadows to be acknowledged for the pivotal position it plays between student learning, academic practice and strategic decision-making. This was particularly striking during the emergency phases of the pandemic, where programme leaders came to the fore, reassuring and supporting learners and guiding teaching team colleagues through the challenges of rapid change in institutional policy and educational delivery. Yet questions remain about the extent of institutional appreciation of the programme leadership role and the practical support, recognition and resourcing that flows to those in these positions. Continued advocacy and collective championing is, we argue, vital.Continue reading
Continuous programme improvement has been historically based on providing documentation and fixing gaps in how a programme satisfies its learning outcomes, based on data and input from multiple stakeholders (Brodeur & Crawley, 2009). How many times have you been invited to a meeting to discuss quality assurance, only to be asked to provide support on how to get through the bare minimum and avoid bureaucratic processes? While those of us in educational support roles feel it is more valuable to focus on the spirit and intention of quality assurance initiatives, how do we create a culture that focuses on quality enhancement rather than bureaucratic milestones?Continue reading
We are delighted and proud to be involved in the creation of ‘Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in HE: Practical Wisdom for Leaders, Educational Developers and Programme Leaders’ because it recognises the pivotal role of Programme Leaders (PLs) in higher education.
It has been noted for some time, and we certainly found in our work with programme leaders, that this group of staff, who work at the junction of pedagogy, academic leadership, and student experience, too often seem to get a raw deal. Given the sheer power of the market forces of student satisfaction and notions of ‘quality’ in the neoliberal academy, it can be hard to see why they are not better valued and celebrated for their incredible impact on the student learning journey.Continue reading
When the call for chapters for Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in HE: Practical wisdom for leaders, educational developers and programme leaders. Routledge, UK was announced, it was just the right time for us. We have launched extensive programme leader (PL) development programme at UWE Bristol and I was keen to share our experiences. These showed that busy PLs will engage with institutional support, in great numbers, if it does justice to the complexity of their role. I was, and still am, adamant that we should not shy away from developing an extensive programme of support for PLs. After all, we expect a lot from them, so we should be willing and able to offer support that is commensurate with our expectations. The chapter captures the design principles of the programme, which I believe have ensured its success. Here is a short snippet of our story:Continue reading
This is the first post in a Blog Series, edited by Sue Morón-García, focusing on programme leadership. Posts are written by contributors to ‘Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in Higher Education’ (Lawrence, Morón-García and Senior, Routledge, 2022) and will be of interest to anyone practising as or supporting the development of programme leaders and leadership in HE.
Programme leaders (PLs) are crucial to higher education success. They commonly have responsibility for the nexus of the student experience: a programme of study. They work in a highly contextualised environment subject to local cultures (institutional, departmental and disciplinary) and are subject to the strategy and management that shape the systems and processes they must navigate. Our early work with programme leaders and educational developers across the UK and discussions at international events indicated a need for evidence-based, practical wisdom and clarity on how to better develop and support the role.Continue reading
The programme leader is responsible for ensuring a coherent programme of study is designed and delivered by a diverse collection of academic colleagues. It is arguably one of the most crucial roles in HE (Lawrence and Ellis, 2018).
Working within institutional structures, leading, managing and bringing together academic and professional service colleagues (Lafoe et al, 2013) while addressing various stakeholder requirements and quality assurance process can be difficult (Zutshi et al, 2013) and isolating (Cahill et al, 2015) at the best of times. In the age of COVID 19, where constant change and uncertainty reigns, where the practical and pastoral support needs of staff and students are intense, this kind of educational leadership is all the more demanding.Continue reading