#Take 5 #31 The best way of getting recognised?

The ALDinHE Recognition scheme

This #Take5 post is brought to you from Dr Steve Briggs a Co-Chair of ALDinHE  and a driving force behind the design and development of this key Learning Development recognition scheme. 


The need for recognition

The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) represents individuals working as Learning Development Practitioners in the UK. ALDinHE offers opportunities to share best practices and ideas, and to provide CPD and professional development opportunities for members.

The field of Learning Development has grown significantly in the last fifteen years and most universities in the UK now have a Learning Development provision. How Learning Development is institutionally operationalised varies quite a bit in terms of structure (for instance, could be based in the library, student support, teaching and learning directorate) and team size/remit. Nonetheless, Learning Development Practitioners share a commitment to working directly with students to help them make sense of university and develop the academic skills (such as writing, study skills and maths) required to be successful. This is commonly through extracurricular activities (such as drop-in or appointments) and/or working with course teams to build academic skills development opportunities into students’ programmes of study.

Given the growing number of HE professionals who identify with working in a Learning Development capacity it is unsurprising that there has been a growing community call for more recognition of the professional expertise and skills required to effectively work as a Learning Development Practitioner.

Getting Professional – Getting Recognised

At the 2018 Learning Development Conference in Leicester, ALDinHE launched a new recognition scheme for Learning Development practitioners. This is designed to promote ‘Learning Development’ as a profession in its own right and protect the Learning Development practitioner title per se. Successful applicants receive formal recognition of their specialist knowledge and practice. This demonstrates expertise to both current and prospective employers. This might also be useful when applying for a HEA fellowship.

An ALDinHE Learning Development Practitioner recognition scheme was first proposed at the 2017 Learning Development conference during a ‘Community Keynote’ delivered by the association Co-Chairs (Carina Buckley and me). During this session, delegates worked in groups to define characteristics associated with a practitioner becoming a certified Learning Developer. This session revealed a strong community consensus that although practitioners can have quite diverse roles, they will share Learning Development values.

Community keynote feedback led to ALDinHE (2018)[1] defining five values that should guide the work of Learning Development practitioners:

  1. Working alongside students to make sense of and get the most out of HE learning
  2. Making HE inclusive through emancipatory practice, partnership working and collaboration
  3. Adopting and sharing effective Learning Development practice with (and external to) our own institutions
  4. Critical self-reflection, on-going learning and a commitment to professional development
  5. Commitment to a scholarly approach and research related to Learning Development.

The recognition scheme requires practitioners to demonstrate commitment to these values and is graduated across two levels:

  • Certified Practitioner (CeP) aimed at individuals demonstrating LD excellence within their institution
  • Certified Leading Practitioner (CeLP) aimed at individuals demonstrating LD excellence beyond their institution    

And it’s working

During the 2018 application window (March – June) we received applications from practitioners based at thirty-one universities in England, Scotland and Ireland. To date, 35 CeP and 17 CeLP have been awarded. 

Successful applicants are:

  • Given a certificate in recognition of their LD expertise.
  • Listed on the ALDinHE website – publically recognising their expertise.
  • Encouraged to add their ALDinHE status in their email signature.

Feedback from applicants

 “ As Learning Developers we all understand the need for reflection and, no doubt, do execute it in some way on a regular basis. However, reflecting for the purpose of achieving a level of certification that makes a statement to others in and outside of the profession is, I find, a far more rigorous and revelatory process. It has been both encouraging, illuminating and inspiring to undertake and I trust that it serves to help establish Learning Development as an integral part of the education system”.

 “Completing CeP allowed time to critically reflect on my learning journey as a learning developer and demonstrating my commitment to the ALDinHE professional values”.

 “The CeP application process afforded an extremely useful framework within which to critically reflect on my professional experience as a basis for further developing and extending the range of my teaching, educational support and professional experience. It was an enriching experience for me and I feel privileged to have been awarded the CeP status”.

How to apply

You apply if you: 1) Are based at an institution that is an ALDinHE member; or 2) Have an individual ALDinHE membership. ALDinHE membership information is available via: https://aldinhe.ac.uk/join-aldinhe-community/

The recognition scheme is open for applications between the 1st March and 30th June 2019. For more information contact please check out our website: https://aldinhe.ac.uk/aldinhe-professional-accreditation/


Dr Steve Briggs is Head of Professional and Academic Development at the University of Bedfordshire. He has been Co-Chair of ALDinHE for almost three years and also Co-Chairs the ALDinHE Professional Development Working Group. Steve is a Chartered Psychologist and a PFHEA.

[1] ALDinHE (2018) About. Available at: https://aldinhe.ac.uk/about-aldinhe/ (Accessed: 4th February 2019).

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