Perspectives on learning and teaching – Review of TEA Pilot#1

As we’re nearing the end of the first year of operations for the Teaching Excellence Alliance (TEA) it’s timely to engage in a little reflection, look at developments to date and signal plans for the future.

(About) time for TEA

In recent years, even before the arrival of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), policymakers have placed increasing emphasis on ‘teaching excellence’. Against an increasingly fluid HE sector, the phrase is a now a constant in the higher education lexicon. However, whilst few would disagree with the need to recognise, incentivise, and champion teaching excellence in all its forms, it is far trickier to be explicit about what makes them excellent. Enter the TEA.

The Purpose of the TEA

Alliance universities are, and always have been, committed to teaching excellence, with a strong emphasis on technical and professional education. Building on this, the TEA develops, defines and champions our universities’ distinctive teaching excellence, as well as supporting continuous improvement and professional development for teaching staff.

Developments so far

Since the TEA’s inception as a broad concept a little under a year ago, we’ve been working hard; first to articulate our own distinctive qualities, and secondly to hone the ‘toolkit’ which will best serve collective development of our teaching practices, some of which are in the table below.








Our overarching commitment is to transforming the life outcomes for our diverse student cohorts through the development of social capital and an emphatically inclusive approach. The distinctive quality of Alliance education, and the basis for a collective edge, is the relationship between our progressive teaching and learning practices, and the particular context within which they are enacted.

We’ve taken these practices and played them out through an initial intensive two-day staff development event. The ‘TEA Sandpit’ was attended by 60 staff from across Alliance universities.

In the future, we will continue to work together to support keeping in good standing, to facilitate peer mentoring and problem solving, and to share examples of distinctiveness and excellence to develop best practice across institutions.

These developments signal an exciting year ahead for the TEA as it focuses upon building UA members as the global ‘go to’ for innovation and excellence in professional and technical education. Watch this space!

This essay has been extracted from our publication, Technical and Professional Excellence: Perspectives on learning and teaching.

Further reading