Oxford Brookes Social Work team awarded Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence

Thursday, 04 August 2022

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The Social Work team at Oxford Brookes University has been awarded the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by Advance HE in recognition of their work to create a decolonised, anti-racist social work programme.

The focus of the project was to address structural inequalities that lead to degree awarding gaps and poorer experiences for BAME students, especially African / Afro-Caribbean students.

The Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning and highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education.

Jill Childs, Principal Lecturer of Social Work and Wellbeing said: “Through learning, reflection and collaboration, we embarked on a challenging journey to produce a programme that no longer privileges Anglo-American approaches to teaching, learning, and social work practice.

“By offering culturally sensitive teaching, we additionally aim to equip our graduates with better skills for a difficult profession that is vital for supporting a wide range of communities. Our partnership with Hope Africa University was integral to this work and allowed us to create bridges with international communities.

“We sought to cultivate an environment that creates a sense of belonging for all staff and students, in order to enable the success of students from historically disadvantaged groups.

“Our team is delighted with the acknowledgement that winning this award gives to our ongoing commitment to find social justice-focussed solutions to overcoming degree awarding gaps.”

Over the last six years, the social work team has implemented a number of measures to broaden the team’s ethnic and cultural diversity, and reconstruct the curriculum to draw on research and best practice that is epistemically diverse. This has included introducing students to diverse cultures, case studies and theoretical approaches in order to expand their outlooks and understanding.

The team identified the unique learning needs of individual students using the MANDELA model - an anti-discriminatory teaching and learning tool that focuses on developing, building, and maintaining relationships between and among people.

The project also saw the successful development of a student advisory group self-called the ‘Global Majority Collective’. The group involves 25 BAME social work students meeting fortnightly to discuss their experiences and what they think needs to be changed on the programme. The teaching staff encourage the group to critically review the curriculum and teaching approach, and reverse mentor staff.

Earlier this year, the Social Work team won the University Alliance Award for Innovation for their work, and previously were recognised in the HE Innovate awards which acknowledge the new and innovative ways academics teach and support their students.

More information about the Social Work team’s work can be found here.

Advance HE confer the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence and National Teaching Fellowships annually. Read about Oxford Brookes’ newest National Teaching Fellow here

Image: From left to right, Alayna Dibo (lecturer), Chevell Perry (student and Global Majority Collective member), and Jill Childs (Principal lecturer) receiving the University Alliance Award for Innovation earlier this year.