News: National Teaching Fellowship award for Roehampton lecturer

Wednesday 15 October 2014 by Carmel Smith

Dr Sara Houston receives the fellowship from Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, a member of the Higher Education Academy board.

Dr Sara Houston, a lecturer at the University of Roehampton has received a National Teaching Fellowship award for her long-standing commitment to helping dancers across the UK develop as professionals – and for promoting community-led dance.

Seven hundred academics across the UK have become fellows since the scheme began in 2000. Sara Houston is the first London based lecturer in dance to become a fellow and the first in the country for 10 years in her field.

“These fellowships raise awareness of the importance of great teaching and that’s so vital, especially when students are deciding which universities to apply to,” she said. “Roehampton has developed a close working relationship between lecturers and students which has led to some really innovative practice and so, although this is an individual award, my thanks go to colleagues and students for their support.

“The on-going thinking and conversations we have at the University, and within the community dance profession, have led to really exceptional ideas, which I’ve been lucky to be able to help develop and share. I believe that we should share the motivation and inspiration that we can gain from teaching students for the benefit of the whole profession.”

Through her work, Dr Houston has raised the profile of dance as a career, helping to give the University’s degrees an international reputation. She has turned students into advocates for dance, and expanded people’s understanding of what a career in dance could include. She has brought professional focus, theory and pride to the community and participatory dance sector, placing it on a par with major set piece performances.

National Teaching Fellowships are the most prestigious awards for excellence in higher education teaching. Dr Houston was chosen from among 180 nominations, and will receive £10,000 to spend on professional development. What she learns will be shared with other staff and will directly benefit Roehampton students.

The fellowships are organised by the UK’s Higher Education Academy organisation and are funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Fellows are nominated by their university and submissions had to show evidence of individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence.

Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “Students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is lecturers like Sara who can make a real difference to their futures. I wish her all the success in her learning and teaching experiences.”

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