ALDinHE Annual Team Award 2023

This page celebrates and publicises exceptional work taking place within the learning development community, highlighted through the ALDinHE Annual Team Awards nominations. Here you can read about the team nominees’ work from the 2023 awards.

2023 Nominations

Personal Learning Advice Team – Student Support Services; The Open University by Jenny Hillman

The LD practitioners in the Personal Learning Advice Service deliver one-to-one coach-mentoring, group coaching, study skills and guided ‘study together’ sessions (value 1). The team take a courageous approach to supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds; this is premised on listening and holding space for students to share and explore their own narratives. In the first 2 years of the PLA Service, evaluation has shown impact on pass rates for Black students (shared in “Love LD” – April) and a strong correlation with retention for students with mental health needs (values 1 & 3). The team have been pivotal in seeking to “co-create” our service with students in a genuine and authentic way. For example, they have been the driving force behind the creation of a regular formal consultation as well as student surveys. Their truly student-led approach has been reflected in their outstanding 100% student satisfaction rate in 2021-22 (value 1). We are so proud not only of the ethnic- and neuro- diversity in our team but also of the way they have continually been striving to create an anti-oppressive culture through the sharing of good practice and critical self-reflection (values 3 & 4). For example, many of the team have been involved in facilitating a recent anti-racism training event for academics at the OU and being brave enough to ask challenging questions (values 2 & 4). In doing so, they have been highlighting institutional and wider systemic barriers and helping to drive the social justice mission in HE (value 2). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the team are committed to ensuring a legacy for the pilot outside of the institution sharing via UKAT, Advance HE, and AMOSSHE and publishing their equity-centred coaching framework in the recent JLDHE EDI special issue (values 3 & 5).

University of Northampton LD Team by Kate Coulson

he LD Team at the University of Northampton and they practice they undertake is an exemplar in relation to the ALDinHE values. 1) The LD Tutors work along students every day in their tutorials, drop-ins and embedded teaching practice. They also work alongside LD Student Mentors (current students) who they employ to peer mentor other students. They undertake research and create teaching materials with students across the institution to ensure their practice is student-focussed. They constantly adjust their offering to reflect student need and societal circumstances. The are agile and flexible. 2) They make HE at the University of Northampton inclusive by how they work with students – listening to their needs and feedback and working in collaboration with students (and staff) by ensuring the power dynamic is balanced and fair. 3) and 4) The team is incredibly research active, they adopt and share effective Learning Development practice with (and external to) our own institutions through internal and external conference, journal articles, book chapters, webinars and seminar and are internationally recognised. One member was awarded their NTF through their work as an Learning Developer. They are experts in the impact of LD, EDI and LD, peer mentoring, grit and resilience, using magic to teach critical thinking and many other areas of expertise. Per annum the 7.5FTE tutors have an output of approx. 20 items. 5) They do not rest on their laurels and constantly strive to reflect and have a strong commitment to CPD – all have FHEA status and CeP/CeLP and many have embarked on Level 8 studies. The team at Northampton has had a long journey but has worked hard to ensure that they are leaders within the field of Learning Development; they are innovative, supportive, collegiate and just brilliant. They deserve this recognition from their peers.

ALDinHE Certified Mentoring Scheme Working group by Sandra Abegglen, Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield

We want to nominate the team that came together to design the ALDinHE Mentoring Programme. This programme has been resourced, trialled and evaluated – and is now supplemented by a CeM, professional recognition of ALDinHE mentoring. CeM has also been trialled – such that the first ALDinHE certificated mentors are ‘rolling off the production line’. This small team of already busy and kind people devised a dialogic and supportive mentoring model for ALDinHE, which included mentor, mentee and ALDinHE partner. This triadic structure offered diverse avenues of support to all involved – and in the process acknowledged the reciprocity of the mentoring partnership, encouraging both mentor and mentee to see the process as one of reflective co-mentoring. This team kept the Mentoring Working Group updated on their progress – seeking feedback but more importantly demonstrating a collegiate, collaborative approach to project design, implementation and evaluation. In the process they also supported each other and those embarking on the pilot of the programme. This team designed key resources to support the mentoring process – and post-evaluation have developed a revised format for releasing the resources so that participants are not overwhelmed. Further, they have negotiated a resourced locale on the ALDinHE website to firmly embed mentoring as a sine qua non of ALDinHE practice – rooted in ALDinHE values of working alongside and in partnership with – of collaboration – of sharing effective Learning Development practice with (and external to) our own institutions – critical self-reflection – ongoing learning – professional development … all underpinned by a scholarly approach to mentoring practice. The benefit is to all the ‘students’ of the mentoring programme themselves and – via the depth and breadth of the mentoring relationships and the growth they facilitated – to all their students.

University of Nottingham Libraries’ Learning Development (Academic Skills) Team:

I joined this team one year ago having switched from teaching to learning development. During this time, our team has changed, grown, and adapted to an ever-changing HE environment. Every member of this team inspires me daily with their innovation, passion for education, and compassion for others. This team (along with all other LD teams across the country) deserves greater recognition for its expertise in creating a delivering engaging and interactive teaching sessions and responding seamlessly to existing and new demands from both academic and professional services staff. For example, Tolu and Catherine have hosted many special events to engage WP students. Tilda and Gloria have done a fantastic job of engaging the students and staff from the faculties of art and social sciences and Kelly and I have been working together on embedding our support across the faculties of science, engineering and medicine and health sciences. Finally, our team leader, Judy, has been working across the university to promote our services and get us involved in the university’s curriculum transformation project. We all work fantastically as a team, sharing our ideas and supporting one another through the good times and the bad.

NCG Academic Support Team, Newcastle College, nominated by Gill Bradley:

Since 2020 we have developed a new philosophy to academic support, designed specifically to for our college-based higher education setting. 58% of our students come from areas classed as deprived (IMD). Colleges need to work harder to develop the confidence of their students as many of them are the first in their family to access HE (Higher Education) or are mature students looking to make changes to improve their life (Annett and Nickisson, 2023). Prior to 2020, academic coaching focused on knowledge transfer with no training in coaching practices or theory. Care, compassion and empowerment are now at the heart of our offer. Practice is guided by Egan and Reece’s (2016) Skilled Helper model, Edmondsons (2018) principle of psychological safety and Klines (1999) thinking environment. The coaching relationship that makes our service exceptional. 72% of students that refer cite low academic confidence and this is where our caring approach begins. Empathetic presence, unconditional positive regard, and ensuring students felt safe to discuss feelings, be reflective and able to take ownership of their learning (Foote, 2015, Eggers and Clark, 2000, Wilkins, 2000). We were highlighted in our 2023 TEF submission as an outstanding feature of the provision. Distance between NSS benchmark and metric has increased by 6.2% over the last three years. Engagement has risen from 118 referrals in 2018 to 623 year to date. Student collaboration is at our heart. We have five Academic Support Fellows that conduct projects into how we can be more relevant and accessible. Their current focus is developing academic peer mentors and reviewing our terminology and social media usage. They guide us, providing honest and sometime critical feedback. A small but determined voice in HE, we have delivered sessions for NEON, Association of Colleges UKAT and AdvanceHE to showcase our perspective and passion.

University of Sheffield SpLD/TEL Team, nominated by Eleanor Machin:

The team have worked together to create a suite of wraparound interactive resources to support students through every step of their student journey. Whilst the resources are aimed at neurodiverse students, they are relevant and useful to students across the spectrum. The team worked with a student to create the resources and sought feedback from students to further improve the resources. The first resource is the guidebook to navigating the first semester. This is the go to resource to support students new to higher education, covering terminology, such as what is a module; explaining what happens in a lecture; and supporting students through their first assessment: From this, the next step is a gamified learning resource to develop study skills. Using the latest research and technology, the team have created an interactive game to engage students in developing their skills: The next challenge that students often face is transitioning into placements, where they are often required to juggle adjusting to the workplace and managing academic requirements. The team have provided a toolkit, including strategies and downloadable templates: As students move towards their final year, the team provides an opportunity for students to publish their research in a safe and supportive environment, via the journal Neurodiversity Matters. The editor, Eleanor Machin, supports students in all stages of submission, from crafting their work, to drafting, to providing a final draft. Here is an example of the journal: The final stage of the journey for students is to transition to the workplace; here the team provide resources for moving into the workplace. This toolkit provides strategies, advice on legislation and downloadable resources. It is also useful for students entering part time work. In short, the team are with the students for every step of their academic journey.

 Library and Academic Skills Team, Staffordshire University by Alison Pope:

The team made a difference by offering a menu of support to enrich the learning. Embedded teaching in the subject timetable, in person/online one to ones, a programme of workshops focusing on specific learning issues. initiating the Library Unlimited project focusing on diversification of reading lists. This is spotlighted by curated reading lists highlighting different aspects of diversity each month. contributing to the Study Smarter initiative ensuring that students always get the best type kind of support for their specific needs. working with the public library to encourage wellbeing and literacy issues. Using World Book Night to highlight this partnership. partnering with a local theatre to focus on its archive. A collaborative online exhibition has provoked civic interest working with the Academic Quality team to create a confidence tool integrated into the Staffordshire University employability project. ( highlighting developments in AI/academic integrity. Hosting a forum on with attendees from the Mercian Collaboration and further afield by committing to scholarly innovation; by creating a ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ chapter for the new publication Collaboration in Higher Education, created in partnership with colleagues in Animation and at the Open University by creating an alternative front end client using Minecraft for Education, designed to engage reluctant library users. Research is being undertaken to assess the impact of Minecraft as a route to library support. by developing playful ways to support learning: two recent team approaches will feature at PlayLearn23. by developing an Academic Skills audit to support HE transition. by researching at doctorate level into student reticence to seek skills support by reflecting as practitioners. The team uses peer observation and moderation to ensure consistency of delivery. A programme of training is in place including sessions focusing on supporting learning development.

 Learning Development Team, University of Leeds, by Maddy Mossman:

The Learning Development Team supports students to develop their academic skills. We work in partnership with academics and students to develop our offer, both within their programmes of study and through co-curricular workshops, 1-1 appointments and online resources. We are committed to collaboration and co-design with our students. Students self-enrol on our student advisory board (approx. 300) to work with us to develop aspects of our service. During the summer of 2022 we worked with these students to redevelop our co-curricular workshop programme of our 50 workshops to make them more active, and to allow students to share their own experience of study with each other, and to learn together new approaches. Students were consulted at all points of the process from design to final sign-off. Feedback from attendees are positive “One of the most helpful and time-worthy workshops I have ever attended” and “I really enjoyed this workshop, it was delivered in such an approachable friendly way that it felt easy to ask questions, and felt interactive” In 2022-23, we launched a new Writing Café. Student mentors staff the cafe and offer guidance on academic writing queries whilst also offering an opportunity for students to have a less isolating experience of writing. The mentors lead our communications, and evaluation, shaping its future development. We are committed to developing ourselves, our understanding of our students’ experience and our scholarship. We have recently commissioned a research project on 16-18 year old academic skills expectations of university and two of our team have recently completed an internal fellowship programme on assessment literacies and experience of our co-curricular programme ( Our team are supported and encouraged to complete their PGCAP and are provided 10% of their FTE for scholarship purposes, as such we regularly contribute to the ALDinHE conference, LD@3 and LILAC.

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