This year was my first time reviewing National Teaching Fellow (NTF) applications. I have previously reviewed the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) awards, which celebrates teamwork and collaboration, whilst the NTF celebrates sustained professional practice in learning and teaching.  

The purpose of the National teaching fellow scheme is to recognise, reward and celebrate individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes in the learning and teaching profession. The award is organised by Advance HE (Higher Education).  

Source: National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) 2023, Guidance for Reviewers, Advance HE, National Teaching Fellowship Scheme. 

NTFS is open to both Academic and Professional Services staff working in Higher Education.  

The Role of Reviewer  

In my role as a reviewer, I assess NTF applications to enable Advance HE to recommend who will be selected winners.  

Reviewers provide a score and feedback on each section of the application as well as providing overall feedback to the applicant and summary feedback to Advance HE.  

As a reviewer you look at the 3 criteria to assess the evidence against:  

  • Reach: the scale of influence 
  • Value: the benefits derived for students and staff 
  • Impact: the difference that has been made to policy, practice, or student outcomes.

As well as the demonstration of individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence. 

My experience as a reviewer  

I took part this year as a self-development activity and to appreciate the distinct types of practice that are being used as evidence. I found the experience really rewarding, being able to read about the applicants’ contributions to learning and teaching over a sustained period of time, seeing how applicants had developed, changed practice, and adapted to changing situations for the benefit of their learners was interesting to read.  

My batch of applicants to review included a mix of men and women which was great to see. 

Even though it would have been valuable to have reviewed applications from Professional Services staff, on this occasion they were all full time Academic Staff who highlighted their inspiring practice.  

 I queried this with Advance HE, and they explained there is a severe shortage of Professional Services staff applying for the National Teaching Fellow scheme. Advance HE has previously tried to encourage applications from underrepresented groups for NTF and this has made a difference to the range of applicants.  

Underrepresentation of the following groups in comparison to the UK HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) Staff Data:  

  • Staff from UK minority ethnic groups defined within HESA as Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic  
  • Professional Services Staff  
  • Staff on fractional and part-time contracts  
  • Staff working in HE in FE (Further Education) 

Source: National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) 2023, Guidance for Reviewers, Advance HE, National Teaching Fellowship Scheme. 

When reviewing applications.  

As with all reviewing the scoring is sometimes the most difficult part so I am looking forward to seeing how my scores aligned to the other reviewers. Reviewers score in isolation of other reviewers so there is no chance for reviewers to be influenced by others. Whilst it can be difficult for reviewers this practice of independent reviewing results in consistently reviewing applicants’ evidence in line with the scoring rubric that is issued alongside the guidance documents.  

Application Window 

The application window for NTF is from October through to early March, but preparation and planning applications like this starts much sooner and it is a chance to gather feedback on learning and teaching approaches and to consider what your application will be framed on, examples I have reviewed have included:  

Digitally enhanced learning  

Widening participation  


Innovation in Science Teaching  


Alongside the application applicants are required to include a supporting statement. This is to be composed by a colleague working in a senior role at DVC/PVC or equivalent who is familiar with the applicants teaching and learning practice. It is then signed off by the institutes VC for formal institution endorsement.  

If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme. Advance HE has information on their website:

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