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University duo recognised as outstanding teachers with National Teaching Fellowships

Course leader for Film Production, Freya Billington and director of sport, Dr Andy Pitchford, are amongst 55 lecturers and learning support staff chosen for the accolade nationally from over 180 nominations submitted this year by universities across the country.

The University of Gloucestershire is one of only 12 universities to have achieved two National Teaching Fellowships this year. That maintains the University’s outstanding record as being amongst the leading universities for the number of its staff attaining these top teaching awards. Over the 15 years since the scheme was introduced, University of Gloucestershire academic staff have been awarded 16 National Teaching Fellowships. That places it as one of the top universities in the country.

The Fellows are awarded a £10,000 grant, which they can use to support their professional development in teaching and learning.

Dr Andy Pitchford joined the University in 1996. Amongst many other contributions, Andy has supported enterprising students to create an international development programme, Sport Malawi. Every year a select team of students and staff travel to Malawi for a month to deliver a range of workshops. The project has now reached thousands of coaches, leaders and volunteers in Malawi.

Andy has also worked with students to develop the All Golds, the only professional rugby league team owned by a university in the world and UNIversal Sport, a major sport participation scheme. The All Golds rugby league team gives students the chance to play at a high level and supports students with aspirations to work in sports media, sports therapy, community coaching and sports management.

Freya Billington has built strong industry engagement with the University’s Film Production course, running an enviable guest speaker series and establishing unique work experience opportunities for her students. As part of the annual Media Festival, Freya has brought high-profile industry experts to give students real insight into the creation, funding, production and distribution of films in the UK. The course is ranked in the top 10 in the country by this year’s Guardian University Guide. Freya’s own work has been screened at international film festivals. Her roles have ranged from editing work for BBC documentaries to Post Production Supervisor for high-profile BBC dramas, as well as recently completing a short musical.

University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said: “I am delighted that two of the University’s academic staff have been recognised at a national level for their outstanding teaching and commitment to learning.

“One of our top priorities at the University of Gloucestershire is to help our students learn and achieve through excellent and innovative teaching. The NTF annual awards are a key indicator of our success, giving external, independent recognition of the excellence of our staff. I am delighted for both Andy and Freya, that their talent, enthusiasm, creativity and professional commitment have been recognised in this way. And I am delighted for the University that we have confirmed our position as one of the top universities in terms of the number of staff judged by their peers as deserving national recognition for their teaching excellence.”

Andy, who also coaches Leckhampton Rovers under-11s at the University’s Park campus, said: “I’m delighted with the Award and have always enjoyed teaching at the University. We have a long history of supporting innovative teaching. I have been lucky to have guidance and encouragement from some brilliant people. Most of all though I have been privileged to work with some fantastic students over the years who came up with such great ideas.”

Freya, who took over as course leader for Film Production at the University of Gloucestershire in 2012, said: “Teaching is something I am extremely passionate about, so to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship as a recognition of something I have tried very hard to do well, is a real honour. In other words, I am chuffed to pieces.”

The awards will be formally presented at a celebration event to be held at Liverpool Cathedral in October.