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Kingston University scoops joint honours in University Alliance Innovation Award as Town House hosts body's annual summit

Posted Wednesday 8 June 2022

Kingston University scoops joint honours in University Alliance Innovation Award as Town House hosts body's annual summit Reverend Professor Alison Baverstock (left) and Claire Jackson (right) picked up the Innovation Award at the University Alliance Awards.

Two academics from Kingston University have been named joint winners of University Alliance's Innovation Award as it played host to hundreds of higher education experts from across the United Kingdom at its award-winning Town House for its annual summit.

The winners of the awards were announced during an evening ceremony that saw Kingston share joint honours in the Innovation Award category with Oxford Brookes University. Reverend Professor Alison Baverstock, a publishing expert based at Kingston School of Art, and Claire Jackson, course leader for the primary education pathway of the University's PGCE teaching programme, collected the accolade for their research looking at the impact frequent relocation has on the schooling of Armed Forces families.

This work has led to Kingston University becoming the first higher education institution in the UK to embed the needs of military children within the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) curriculum for trainee teachers. 

Many military families are based in the Kingston borough but, for security and other reasons, the number of Forces pupils in local schools is not always well known, Professor Baverstock said. "We have been able to increase awareness of the particular issues that affect military families, outlining how future teachers can best support them and how greater understanding of their life experience and managing change can benefit the whole class," she said. "We are proud that, as a result of this work, Kingston University has become the first higher education institution in the UK to embed the needs of military children within the PGCE curriculum."

Two other Kingston University projects were also shortlisted for the awards – another in the Innovation Award category and a separate project for the Alliance Award. Both were from the University's School of Nursing, who were shortlisted in two categories for projects designed to ensure nursing and midwifery students continued to receive high quality training and hands-on work experience during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The finalists included Associate Dean for External Engagement Professor Kathy Curtis, who is based in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, and Regional Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Health Education England for London Nichole McIntosh, who were shortlisted in the Alliance Award category. They worked together to ensure healthcare students from Kingston University and Pan London Practice Learning Group were able to access placements during the pandemic by establishing a Rapid Action Placements Group, which they co-chaired. The group included representatives from the London Healthcare Education Group, made up of universities from across the capital, and the London Health Education England team.

Collaborating in this way enabled Pan London Practice Learning Group to overcome the challenges universities and healthcare providers faced offering clinical placements, which are central to students’ successful progression, while the pandemic continued to place significant pressure on clinical services, Professor Curtis explained. “This alliance identified and enabled valuable healthcare education innovations across London, such as clinical simulations to replace practice placement experiences and remote or virtual placements with online consultations to work with patients,” she added. 

Its response to the pandemic also saw the School of Nursing become a contender for the University Alliance's Innovation Award, shortlisted for the work undertaken by the Clinical Skills and Simulated Learning Team to adapt content so modules students completed remained meaningful despite the challenges educators faced. Associate Professor in Simulated Learning and Clinical Skills, Sally Richardson and her team created videos, audio clips, worked with external colleagues to include drama packages and introduced a virtual simulation platform for more complex case scenarios so they could continue to meet students' learning needs. They also dispelled myths around the Covid-19 vaccine, encouraging those hesitant to take it up.

The University's newly appointed Head of Nursing, Professor Claire Thurgate, said the whole School had risen to the numerous challenges Covid-19 had posed. "I'm very proud of how the team demonstrated flexibility and agility in developing new and creative learning and teaching methods which supported student learning," she added. "Throughout the pandemic, the student experience was central to everything that was done to ensure individual learning needs were met as students continued their journey to becoming newly qualified nurses."

The University Alliance Awards celebrate the dedication and achievements of staff from 15 member institutions nationwide, who are all leading providers of technical and professional education. The winners were announced at a special ceremony at Kingston University's landmark Town House building, winner of the EU Mies van der Rohe award 2022 and 2021 RIBA Stirling Prize, which this year played host to the University Alliance annual summit.

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