#Take5 #33 The best way to write an ALDinHE recognition scheme application?

Recognition scheme Writing Retreat

 This #Take5 post is brought to you from Steve Briggs and Katherine Koulle who co-manage the administration and development of the ALDinHE recognition scheme – and who ran the Writing Retreat on 8th May 2019.

A need for recognition

Recently, Steve Briggs, ALDinHE and Professional Development working Group co-chair,  explained the background to the ALDinHE recognition scheme in a previous #Take5 blog – https://lmutake5.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/take-5-31-the-best-way-of-getting-recognised/

Making time to get recognised

The response to the ALDinHE recognition scheme has been overwhelmingly positive: in the first two years over 50 recognitons were awarded. Nonetheless, a common reason that Learning Developers cited for not completing an application was difficulty in setting aside dedicated time to ‘get the application done’. Moore, Murphy and Murray (2010) indicated how structured writing retreats can provide a dedicated environment for participants to fully engage in a writing task, with support from peers:

“The facility that the retreat provides is to create a non-distracted environment in which participants can ‘stay with’ their writing project for uninterrupted periods of time” (p.23)

“Writers’ retreats focus on encouraging participants to engage actively in the target activity, not just to talk about it, to think about it or to plan to do it (though these processes may be important too)” (p.24).

It was decided that piloting a one-day recognition scheme writing retreat would provide a great way of supporting those Learning Developers who were finding it hard to make the time to apply.

The retreat

The retreat was held at the UCL Institute of Education on the 8th May 2019. Delegates were able to attend either in person or remotely via Blackboard Collaborate. Eight Learning Developers attended in person and eight attended remotely.

retreat 1

Pic 1: Remote attendance

Attendees represented multiple universities including: UCL Institute of Education, Birkbeck University of London, University of Bedfordshire, St Mary’s University, London Met University, University of East London, King’s College London, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Structure of the day

We started the retreat by listing our writing goals. Most attendees hoped to get their application completed on the day. While a couple planned to use the day to provide a starting point to scope their application and identify any evidence gaps.

retreat 2

Pic 2: The whiteboard of dreams

This was followed by two 90-minute writing blocks, with a break in between.

retreat 3

Pic 3: Space to write: the dispersed room

After a break for lunch we revisited our writing goals and reviewed progress.

retreat 4

Pic 4: The friendly critical gaze: reflecting on our writing

We then completed two more writing blocks and closed the day with a feedback and evaluation discussion.

Feedback from attendees – in person:

 “Great to have time to get the application started”

 “It was such a great resource for completing the application, I really don’t think I would have otherwise! Brilliant to get immediate feedback too”

 “Today’s writing retreat not only helped clarify the process of applying for CeP but was also extremly useful in terms of thinking about my own continuous professional development for the next year or so”

 “It’s been very useful to have the time and support given for the application. The conditions were very good and conducive for writing”

“Thanks so much for the opportunity to write in a nice, different setting than my office at work or home where other tasks are always screaming to me”

A great day to get things done and be productive”.

 Remote – but not distant:

Feedback from those attending at a distance was equally positive:

“Thanks for a great day – very reflective”

 “I have really enjoyed making this time and space to write with you all – and it has worked.”

 And the Facilitators enjoyed their day as well:

“I have not run a writing retreat before but found it to be a really great experience. Everyone who attended was really engaged and it was fantastic to see so much progress made in recognition scheme applications. My take away insight was having space away from the office really works when it comes to getting writing done”.  

“It was wonderful to have such a great group of both face-to-face and remote participants join us for the very first ALDinHE Recognition Scheme Writing Retreat. We structured the day so that there was dedicated time to spend on writing the applications, but also for reflection and discussion, which was really insightful.”

Looking ahead

It is planned that an application writing retreat will become an annual event held during the three month recognition scheme application window. Future dates will be advertised via the Learning Development in Higher Education Network (LDHEN) Jiscmail list: https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=LDHEN

Want to apply?

For more information about the Recognition Scheme please check out our website: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/development

You can 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: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/join

DEADLINE: In response to popular demand the deadline for applications this year is 3rd June 2019


Moore, S., Murphy, M. and Murray, R. (2010) Increasing Academic Output and Supporting Equality Of Career Opportunity in Universities: Can Writers’ Retreats Play a Role?, The Journal of Faculty Development, 24(3), pp. 21-30


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.

 Katherine Koulle is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the UCL Institute of Education Academic Writing Centre. She co-manages the ALDinHE recognition scheme and is a member of the ALDinHE Steering and Professional Development Working Groups.


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