I am exploring what inter-disciplinarity, or being ‘T-shaped’ for higher education professional staff might mean. As part of this, I have set myself the challenge of understanding the processes for achieving accredited credentials from some professional membership and chartered organisations.

Each of the professional accreditation I have gained have had a strong focus on ethics in practice, which is interesting because I think sometimes when you work in higher education the assumption is that the only people who know about ethics are the academic faculty.

Fellowship of CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

Chartered Fellow CIPD
Chartered Fellow CIPD

My most recent attempt (2023) at gaining a CPD  microcredential is CIPD Chartered Fellow level | CIPD I note that CIPD now say ‘People’ instead of ‘Personnel.  Like HEA and CILIP,  CIPD has various levels which you can progress through or enter via experience routes. I gained Fellowship via the experience route, but I drew heavily on my studies in organisational development (OD), which is one of the HR disciplines.

There are many sections and an aggressive word-count. I needed 2 references from peers in support and they were able to make suggestions on my skills development needs. I also attended a 3 hour professional discussion interview.

This is some of what I wrote:

My work in my own organisation has been sustained over a period of years and brought significant value to my organisation. . My work has had impact to fundamentally change the thinking around people, creating mindset shifts. I created anew EDI strategy and approach where there was none before. 

In this work I have integrated specialist areas of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), diversity management, workplace culture, analytics and reporting, attraction, retention and employee engagement. I have integrated published theory from the HR and management literature in these areas, conducted original research in context, published my findings, disseminated my results and operationalised these findings in practice.

As a member of the senior management team (SMT), with a directorate of my own to lead, I am well-placed to ensure that the issues remain on the senior management agenda for governance and are regularly fed into discussions of strategic planning and resourcing. The work has met the needs of different stakeholders ( management, staff and new recruits) in different ways but for all the value created is that managers are now having more focused and inclusive discussions about diversity as a positive, even advantageous, element in our work teams.

I looked at the organisation as a whole and also its place in the wider sector. In the city of Edinburgh, the University is one of the largest tech employers, competing for staff against the many banks, technology start-ups and internationally famous computer games houses located nearby. The perceptions of our staff and potential recruits with regard to being an attractive workplace are key to ensuring that we can recruit and retain talent to support the university in its business of teaching, learning and research. In involving all team leads, line managers and recruiting managers in this initiative I have ensured that each part of the organisation is working towards the aim of creating a more inclusive organisation for the benefit of all.

My work in establishing our ISG equality programme ‘The PlayFair Steps’ and LTW’s ‘Mandatory Training Day’ were particularly highlighted by the CIPD assessors as innovative work.

Principal Fellowship of HEA ( Higher Education Academy)

I gained Principal Fellowship of The Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) in January 2022.

I already hold SCMALT and FCILIP

PFHEA took me a long time to write because it is a very fiddly process of mapping each section, and statement within section, against not only the heading of the section, descriptor levels, and also the numbered items, core areas and required knowledge in the multiple themes of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). And there’s an aggressive word count.

I actually started writing my application in 2019, and gathered some advocate statements in support, but never completed the task and then some other stuff happened which pushed it further down my to do list.

I have been a fellow of the HEA since 1999. When I first started teaching I was a member of the ILT and of LTSN, when they merged I submitted my portfolio of evidence for HEA Fellowship. I decided in 2019 that it was time to apply for Principal Fellowship based on my ongoing, sustained engagement with the activities, knowledge and professional values  of the UKPSF across my career, and evidence of my impact within and outwith my institution.   I am now working with Advance HE as a member of their Learning and Teaching Strategy Board so my new year’s resolution for 2022 was to get it sent, and I give thanks again to the people who wrote letters of support.

It’s a fiddly process for several reasons. I have to assume it is easier to complete if you are in a senior academic role rather than a professional expert. The references to use of technology  for teaching in the UKPSF are a bit sparse (possibly not surprising as it hasn’t been updated for many years) but it is not difficult for a good learning technologist to demonstrate a thorough understanding of effective approaches to teaching and learning support as a key contribution to high quality student learning.

The evidence needed for Principal Fellowship includes:

  • Successful, strategic leadership to enhance student learning, with a particular, but not necessarily exclusive, focus on enhancing teaching quality in institutional, and/or (inter)national settings;
  • Establishing effective organisational policies and/or strategies for supporting and promoting others (e.g. through mentoring, coaching) high quality teaching and support for learning;
  • Championing, within institutional and/or wider settings, an integrated approach to academic practice (incorporating, for example, teaching, learning, research, scholarship, administration etc.);
  • A sustained and successful commitment to, and engagement in, continuing professional development related to academic, institutional and/or other professional practices.

Once again, I was grateful to myself for the time I spend writing this blog.  I use my blog in several ways: as a reflective diary, as a notebook and aide memoir to record events, a place to develop ideas, a place to gather resources, record and share progress and as a tool for creating  a community and conversation with fellow practitioners and leaders.  I have done my research in an area where previously there has not been a lot of published work available so even my early thinking attracted some attention from my industry peers and I was invited to present my work at a number of practitioner conferences. My work as an insider researcher has been combined with what I have learned and how I have adapted my approaches to real world problems.  My blog records my journey as a scholarly, and reflective practitioner and as a way for people to contact me if they invite me to speak at events.

I am grateful for the studies I’ve done (many moons ago) in gaining a Masters in Education and the time I spent (also many moons ago) as module leader on the PGCert LTHE at University of Leeds. That course really was ahead of its time and it’s fun to see how many ‘alumni’ of the programme now hold senior jobs in institutions.


The HEA application requires particularly evidence that one continues to ‘champion the UKPSF’ at all levels. Here is some of what I wrote:

During the pandemic year we recruited a dozen new learning technologists and in order that they were all able to join our community with a shared understanding of the technologies we have on campus, we put together a training programme to ensure that new recruits were quickly up to speed as expert users of the university systems.  More than half of my educational design team have teaching qualifications and I sponsor research projects to ensure that ‘Edinburgh experience’ is reflected in scholarship of teaching.  Their grounding in educational scholarship brings benefits to the university when we teach academic staff as learners through our staff development programme, which covers all aspects of digital pedagogy. 

I am one of the authors of ‘Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2019). Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching’ which is widely used to support teaching in PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education courses and I take care to ensure that the scholarship I undertook in writing  that book underpins the services we offer. The work of my learning technology staff development teams, instructional designers, media producers and learning design teams directly aligns and embeds the UKPSF elements in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, (A5, V3)

I am a mentor as part of the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Mentoring Connections’ programme, which I find rewarding and interesting as a way to support others in their career progression. I believe that an important part of establishing strategies for supporting academic colleagues in delivering high quality teaching (A2) is to ensure that the professional learning technologists in our organisation are supported in their ongoing professional development. Their increased professionalism ensures that teaching and learning is better supported (K3).

I champion the UKPSF as a framework everyday through its alignment with CMALT -the framework for certifying the professional development of learning technologists . CMALT for learning technology staff is a key component of our staff development activity at University of Edinburgh. The more the learning technology staff can show that they understand how students learn and the use and value of appropriate technologies, the better. CMALT helps them to evaluate the effectiveness of tools for teaching and understand the implications for academic practice (A5).  In order to ensure that our teaching support staff understand the UKPSF framework I offered a university-wide bursary scheme which provided support for CMALT applicants from across the university. The impact can be measured by the result that University of Edinburgh has a more professionally accredited learning technology staff than any other institution in the UK and the fact that our online programmes attract the highest level of satisfaction from students of any mode of delivery. 

My teams design and plan learning activities and programmes of teaching. This work is a large part of the organisational strategy for supporting and promoting others in delivering high quality teaching and learning (A1, A2).  In any given year my learning technology and digital skills teams will offer more than 700 pedagogical training sessions to academic staff and students. We review and evaluate that provision each year (K4 K5) looking at the data about uptake and engagement. We take care to ensure that our staff development courses for online teaching are mapped against the UKPSF and that they contribute as evidence for colleagues working towards FHEA.  

I am happy to share the other bits of my application if that would be helpful. The generosity of my advocates and friends who shared theirs with me made a huge contribution to my success.

Fellowship of CILIP ( Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals)

I gained Fellowship of CILIP in 2019. In the spirit of open practice I am happy to share the structure of my portfolio. Preparing and collecting the evidence for my Fellowship portfolio has been a great way to evaluate the impact I have had on the organisations in which I have worked and on and the wider profession. I am a senior manager with 20 years’ experience in the Higher Education sector. I have held increasingly senior posts in three major universities: University of LeedsUniversity of Oxford and University of Edinburgh.

I am Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services and Assistant Principal for Online Learning at Edinburgh. We are increasing use of digital services and systems in support of an improved student digital experience and holding a leading position as one of the largest UK providers of MOOCs and online learning at Masters level. Information Services at Edinburgh is a converged service comprising IT and libraries. I am part of the senior management team reporting directly to the Senior Vice-Principal and CIO.

In preparing for CILIP fellowship I have looked at each of the areas of professional knowledge and skill outlined in the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB). I feel that my skills have developed over many years of professional practice.  In each of my roles I have been able to transfer skills and build upon experience to learn from what has happened before. This has given me a broad range of opportunities to apply and extend my interests in information management.

For each of the areas in the PKSB I have provided in my portfolio links to evidence of developing and improving my practice and widening my sphere of influence. I have evidence to show my work at a very local level and across the sector through contributions to conferences, published case studies and hosting of major initiatives over many years.

I structured my portfolio and  gathered evidence to support my fellowship application  under the following headings:

Ethics and Values

I am committed to promoting access to information, knowledge, ideas and learning.  This can be seen through my championing of Open Educational Resources (OER) at a local, national and international level over many years. I have established university-wide OER services at Oxford and Edinburgh. I have also convened and hosted conferences and events.

I am committed to the ethical values of equality and diversity in the workplace. I have established a programme of work at University of Edinburgh designed specifically to promote gender diversity in our IT services. After three years this work is now delivering positive impact and I am able to report on metrics for improvement and use data driven decision-making for management practice.  I have also won a number of national awards for this work in taking intersectional approaches to promoting diversity in the workplace.

I lead projects which enable visible role models for women working in STEM careers, and in developing the digital skills of women and girls. My successful initiative at Edinburgh is hosting a Wikimedian in Residence (WiR) with a specific remit to engage women in creating and publishing new content online. Our WiR is now embedded as part of the core team working on information literacy and digital skills in my organisation. This has also been an opportunity to further develop my own digital skills.

I have established a scheme whereby cohorts of learning technologists are supported to achieve their professional certification from the Association of Learning Technologists (CMALT). In the last two years we have gained 15 fully certified colleagues through this route. CMALT requires colleagues to reflect on their practice and present a portfolio of evidence. As part of the scheme I have worked alongside them to update my own CMALT certification to Senior level in 2018.

Generic Skills

In my role I shape the ways in which our services support the business objectives of the university. I am responsible for the long-term aims and objectives in our University IT strategy and plan and significant budgets in delivering these. I currently have a team of c. 120 people including staff, contractors, interns, apprentices and work placements. With my executive team I am responsible for the operational, financial and legal management of the division. To ensure that our services meet the needs of users we have regular and appropriate engagement with all our stakeholder groups including academic user groups, university committees and unions. I have communication officers who work with me to ensure that the messages we are sending and hearing are part of a cycle of continuous improvement.

Professional Knowledge

I continue to develop strategies and skills in using all types of knowledge and information in my work. I have led on several large projects around the recording of lectures and podcasts in the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh. This has involved the creation, curation, sustainability and management of large collections of digital materials. There are complex processes for the governance, legal and copyright policies which support the development of these collections for students to use in their learning, for archiving and retention and for public sharing and engagement.

My commitment to information literacy skills training is longstanding. I have been responsible for staff and student digital skills training at Leeds, Oxford and Edinburgh. I have an ongoing commitment to the LILAC Conference, having keynoted there in 2009 and supported the conference and awards over the years.

In June of 2019 I will welcome the ICEPOPS conference to Edinburgh. One of my staff will provide the keynote address, covering the OER work, ‘Playful Engagement’ and ’23things’ courses we have developed at Edinburgh.

All of this evidence combines to show my long and ongoing commitment to being part of the information profession in higher education as it grows and changes.

And the reviewers were very kind:

Congratulations on achieving Fellowship, the very highest level of our profession which is only awarded for outstanding contributions to the profession.

You have built up a creditable set of personal skills with a clear eye on the environments that you have been working in e.g. devising a Collection Management policy which was strategically designed to meet your customer needs and further organisational goals, championing the cause of information literacy. You could have aligned the skills you highlighted more with your PKSB assessment but you have reflected well throughout your portfolio on your progress and how you have been able to make best use of it.

Contributions to organisational strategy is a very strong area for you and you have been prominent in devising and implementing strategy in your organisations with a strong Equality and Diversity focus and goals aligned to the objectives of the university. You have clearly worked at a senior level for many years and worked across team boundaries for the good of the organisation, making sure that libraries, IT, HR and Staff Development worked together for the greater good of the organisation.

You have achieved a very high profile throughout the profession with your speaking engagements at conferences and other high profile events and the impact that you have made across sectors. By championing the cause of women in high profile positions you have demonstrated that you are a leader and a great example for the upcoming generation of information professionals.