We applaud the advice from Annette Cashmore for those seeking promotion based on teaching (“If they like your lectures, don’t keep it to yourself”, Careers Intelligence, 6 November).
A recent study by The Physiological Society and the Society of Biology in collaboration with the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Heads of University Biosciences, Improving the Status and Valuation of Teaching in the Careers of UK Academics, highlighted a number of ways in which practice across higher education needs to change to create parity between cases for promotion based on teaching and those based on research. These include, as your article described, the need for individual staff to start compiling a portfolio of qualitative as well as quantitative evidence of teaching quality well in advance of (ie, years before) making a case for promotion. We also highlighted the need for clear sector-wide criteria in evidencing and evaluating teaching – equivalent to those for evaluating research achievements – and the importance of sharing best practice in this area. There is considerable variation (and sometimes opacity) between universities in the hurdles to be cleared along a teaching-focused career pathway, which can result in confusion for applicants, promotion panels and external assessors.
The knowledge and skills of our future graduates depend heavily on the quality of the teaching they receive. High-quality teaching changes lives by broadening horizons. The rise in tuition fees over recent years has brought this issue into even sharper focus. High-quality teaching therefore needs to be appropriately recognised and rewarded through transparent, equitable and sector-wide processes.
Blair Grubb, University of Leicester, chair of the Education and Outreach Committee, The Physiological Society
Judy Harris, University of Bristol, deputy chair of the Education and Outreach Committee, The Physiological Society
Jeremy Pritchard, University of Birmingham, chair of the Education, Training and Policy Committee, Society of Biology
Hilary MacQueen, The Open University, chair of Heads of University Biosciences, a special interest group of the Society of Biology