I have been awarded the Principal Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) by Advance HE in December 2022. The highest of the fellowships, PFHEAs are awarded to professionals with sustained records of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. and demonstrate they meet the criteria of Descriptor 4 of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for teaching and supporting learning in higher education (HE). 2019/2020 figures reveal that there were 1366 PFHEAs in UK and worldwide, and 22 PFHEAS in Manchester Metropolitan University where I currently work. My application, entitled ‘Fulfilling Descriptor 4 of UKPSF: 24 years of sustained strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development through “Tentacular Pedagogy” ‘, draws on my international portfolio of creative interventions in >100 universities in the past two decades, and centres around a heuristic, inclusive ethos of ‘tentacularity’. As someone who has come from a working class background, with both parents who were school dropouts by age 16 with no qualifications, and whose entry into the (still elitist) university system has been a fluke via full scholarships for my fine art degrees (still elitist!) in London, Chicago and Tokyo, attaining this highest HEA qualification will enable me to widen access for others like myself — which explains the many hearts and tentacles of Tentacular Pedagogy! The PFHEA follows on from my Senior Fellowship (2016) and Associate Fellowship (2013).
It is clear to see that the Kai’s unique, EDI-centred approach to generate and/or ignite high-quality research, practice, teaching and learning; driving through policy changes, both at faculty and governmental level, and generating new and dynamic collaborations through global and wide-ranging networks of like-minded thinkers, creatives and allies (D4-III). […] Kai’s knowledge and engagement with both staff, students and industry leaders is a credit to her Department and School. […] I fully endorse Kai’s application, and feel that a PFHEA will confirm and validate the important work that Kai has been cultivating not only in her own University, but nationally and internationally.
Prof. of Creative Practice Pedagogy Susan Orr MA, Ed D, PFHEA, NTF, CATE, FRSA (Pro Vice Chancellor Education at De Montfort University) IN HEr ADVOCACY STATEMENT
‘Kai’s leadership brings together a deeply collaborative practice and an innovative and playful approach to teaching and learning (D4 IV). […] Kai has been an outstanding advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the Faculty, and indeed across the university, […] leading a range of initiatives to provide critical support for students and staff (D4 I-IV). Her progressive leadership through personal example and dedication has greatly improved the quality and understanding of teaching/learning around EDI (D4 I: AA1-5; K1-6; V1-4; D2; D3). […] To acknowledge the strong impact of Kai’s EDI leadership, I nominated Kai for the University EDI Champion Award in 2021. The University also nominated Kai for the prestigious Leverhulme Prize (2021), as well as the leadership training programmes of Aurora and StellarHE, reflecting our investment in and keenness to cultivate her leadership in HE.Prof. of Media and Creative Industries Phil Drake (Faculty of Arts & Humanities Director of Education) in his advocacy statement
I really enjoyed being part of your professional dialogue, it was so interesting and very inspiring to hear about the work you have been doing. I was very impressed at how you have raised the strategic profile of so many important issues.INternal panel member
- Prof. of Creative Practice Pedagogy Susan Orr MA, Ed D, PFHEA, NTF, CATE, FRSA (Pro Vice Chancellor Education at De Montfort University)
- Prof. of Media and Creative Industries Phil Drake (Faculty of Arts & Humanities Director of Education)
- Dr Michael Coates (Principal Lecturer, MMU Faculty of Arts & Humanities Head of Postgraduate Taught)
- External Examiner: Dr John R Bostock (NTF 2018, Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning Development, Edge Hill University).
- Internal Panel: Dr Stephen Powell PFHEA (Chair), Rod Cullen PFHEA
- Mentors: Stephanie Aldred Chrissi Nerantzi, Professor Claire Hamshire, Orlagh McCabe and Christopher Little
- Senior Research Assistants: Dr Laura Houseman, Dr Stefanie El Madawi
- The application has taken more than two years to put together, over and above the usual workload of teaching, research and citizenship.
- The process has enabled me to critically reflect on my sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning, and how my practice meets the criteria of Descriptor 4 of the UKPSF.
- The attainment of the highest Fellowship of Advance HE has validated my tentacular efforts within and beyond HE, which the more conservative managers and peers have struggled to grasp (and/or sought to dismiss). The award also feels like an overdue vindication of my interloping, and indeed continued presence, within HE and creative arts HE, for, without the fluke of my three full scholarships, I would not have been allowed to gate-crash into.
- Excitingly, the external assessor as well as an internal panel member of the PFHEA revealed that they share a similar story of neurodivergence (being diagnosed late in life with, in their case, dyslexia). Together, and working with the university’s central Teaching Academy, there is potential to join forces and commit to a dedicated project to improve access for neurodivergent teachers and learners in HE, and to influence Advance HE.
WHAT IS TENTACULAR PEDAGOGY?
Inspired by the extraordinary composition and creative intelligence of the octopus (which has not one but THREE hearts, and all of NINE minds, one for each tentacle), Tentacular Pedagogy is a framework that I have come up with to describe my teaching ethos. The three hearts are EDI-led: neurodiversity, decolonisation (and the related notions of anti-racism and internationalisation), and intersectionality. TP’s 9 arms/legs are: Creativity, Community (widening participation), Co-Creation, Collage (inter-disciplinarity), Can-Do (resourcefulness), Circulation (environmental-consciousness), (the art school ethos of) Courage and Curiosity, and Curating Change (leadership). TP underpins the new MA Creative Arts Leadership which I am Programme Leader of. Read op-ed edition on The Society for Research into Higher Education blog.
Above: The 3 hearts and 9 minds of Tentacular Pedagogy (Tan 2022)