Moving Beyond Teaching Excellence: developing a different narrative for England?s higher education sector

Matt O'Leary, Phil Wood

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: Teaching excellence remains a contested term in English higher education. This paper begins by reflecting on its complex and sometimes blurred meaning, charting the divergence between academic interests in the complexity and contextual questions relating to practice development and organisational and sectoral shifts which have been driven by managerialism, accountability and ?topdown? ideas of change. We argue that this divergence, epitomised in the development of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), has led to a confused, if ubiquitous, use of excellence to identify organisational and sector-led ideas of what it means to deliver quality teaching. However, these frameworks have become progressively detached from the complexity of practice investigated by those interested in pedagogy. Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper which brings together literature from teaching excellence, organisational science, time and higher education to develop an alternative approach to pedagogic development. Findings: Based on a critique of the current, confused conceptualisation of teaching excellence, we offer a different narrative which demonstrates how a reconsideration of the factors important in developing critical and challenging teaching opportunities. Based on a ?bottom-up? system focusing on dialogue, sustainability and ?unhasty? time, we argue for a re-establishing of a holistic approach in HE providers based on emergent pedagogies as opposed to teaching excellence. Originality and value: This paper demonstrates why teaching excellence has become conceptually fractured in an English context, and why a new approach to pedagogic development needs to be considered to establish a more positive and critical approach at both institutional and sectoral levels. This paper outlines a possible approach to developing such renewal.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)112-126
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Education and Development
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 13 May 2019


    • sustainability
    • higher education
    • teaching excellene
    • dialogic change
    • pedagogic practice
    • teaching excellence framework


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