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Outstanding teachers at Reading win top accolade – University of Reading

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Outstanding teachers at Reading win top accolade

Release Date 27 July 2012

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Two University of Reading academics have won prestigious national awards that recognise teaching excellence in higher education.

Helen Bilton of the Institute of Education, and Professor Rachel McCrindle, of the School of Systems Engineering, have both been made National Teaching Fellows. They are among only 50 recipients of this year's award, which is presented by the Higher Education Academy to celebrate individuals who make an outstanding contribution to teaching and learning and the student experience.

University Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, said: "On behalf of the University, I would like to congratulate Helen and Rachel on this outstanding achievement. To be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship is a highly distinguished honour, reflecting very positively on the work that Helen and Rachel have done over the years.

"This recognition demonstrates very clearly the University's continuing commitment to improving and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. Combined with our strong research standing, it is further proof of our attractiveness to current and future students."

Helen Bilton is Director of the Primary PGCE Programme within the University's Institute of Education. Helen is the UK's leading educational specialist in the outdoor learning environment and has written extensively on the topic, making Reading a centre of excellence with regard to this aspect of education.

Helen has played an instrumental role in many learning and teaching initiatives at the University Reading. These include the innovative re-design of modules to involve a local educational charity, placements in special educational needs schools, and the establishment of self-help groups for students with additional needs.

She said: "I'm delighted to have been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship, as it recognises the importance that is placed on teaching and learning at the University. I am hoping to spend the 10,000 that comes with the award on technology to allow live video link ups between our students and a real life classroom situation. This will enable us to analyse teaching practice as a group, and further enhance students' understanding of the process of effective teaching and learning."

Rachel McCrindle is Professor of Computer and Human Interaction in the School of Systems Engineering. She has developed an innovative module for all first year students in the School, where students work in teams to plan, develop and create a board game to teach them about software engineering. Not only do they learn about the topic, they gain an insight into the industry and enhance their soft skills such as team work, time management and communication.

Professor McCrindle said: "I always actively seek to teach in ways that inspire students to be independent learners and to give them real-world skills, in addition to the rigorous academic techniques they need for the modern workplace, thereby enhancing their employability."

This year's Fellows were chosen from nearly 200 nominations submitted to the NTFS by higher education institutions, and will each receive an award of 10,000, which may be used for professional development or aspects of teaching and learning.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said the awards carry considerable prestige within the sector and are highly competitive. He added: "At the HEA we are committed to recognising and rewarding excellence in teaching. Students deserve - and expect - the best possible learning experience during their time in higher education, and fantastic staff such as National Teaching Fellows help to deliver this experience. I am extremely proud of the HEA in delivering this programme and I congratulate all successful recipients."

The new National Teaching Fellows will officially receive their awards at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 10 October 2012.


For media enquiries please contact Becki Rassell, University of Reading Communications Officer on 0118 378 8408 or by email on

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