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Developing Excellent Practice Awards

AdvanceHE logoDeveloping Excellent Practice Award 2024 – sponsored by Advance HE

The Staff Development Forum is delighted to announce the 2024 Developing Excellent Practice Award – sponsored by Advance HE – to recognise and celebrate outstanding staff development individuals or teams.

The SDF Developing Excellent Practice Award reflects the 2024 Festival of Learning and Development’s overarching theme of ‘Transform, Empower and Balance: Moving towards an adaptive mindset in times of disruption’. 

Developing Excellent Practice Award – Initiative of the year

Please submit your completed online form by 3pm, Monday 9th September 2024 and send confirmation to Jane Lucas on

Shortlisted entrants will be notified by Friday 27th September 2024 and must complete an electronic submission of additional material (PowerPoint slide show or video) online by 3pm, Friday 11th October 2024, to aid the judges’ final decision and to promote their project/initiative.

Developing Excellent Practice Award – SDF Member of the year

Application Form includes the criteria and shortlisted entrants will be notified by Friday 18th October 2024.

Please submit your completed online form by 3pm, Thursday 26th September 2024 and send confirmation to Jane Lucas on

Nominations and shortlisted entries will be featured during the Festival. Presentation to the winners will be made during the Festival on Tuesday 12th November 2024 by an Advance HE Representative.

Dr Rossana Espinoza
SDF Chair

Previous Winners

2023 Developing Excellent Practice Award Winners – Member of the Year

Zoe Connell – Canterbury Christ Church University – Sharing Good Practice Award

“A wonderful example of how to implement a new IT system by listening to the people who are going to be using it. Zoe clearly empathises with staff and colleagues and takes time to understand their needs and share her knowledge. Zoe strives to establish a more equitable and collaborative approach to managing performance, using an online process.”

Lisette Whittaker – University of Sussex – Collaboration Award

“This is an excellent example of empowering a team member to develop a service and resources to support what has been a hidden group of staff.  The emphasis on identifying good practice, sharing knowledge, establishing an inclusive and collaborative community is outstanding and demonstrates what going above and beyond can really achieve.”

Sarah Rhodes – Staffordshire University – Innovation Award

“This submission has demonstrated that by identifying the needs of new teaching and learning staff and understanding the challenges they face, as well as utilising creative skills to develop innovative practice, have resulted in improved retention and a supportive environment for new staff to learn and grow.”

Amy Smith – The University of Manchester – Inclusivity Award

“Amy’s work to develop equity for disabled postgraduate researchers is a great example of developing an inclusive service for an often overlooked PGR cohort. Taking time to listen to staff and researchers, to understand their needs, and to promote a culture of sharing practice were key strengths for this award nomination.”

Tracy Ellis – The University of Liverpool – Leadership Award

“Tracy is making a significant contribution, not only at The University of Liverpool but in a wider forum. Tracy is at the heart of creating an active and meaningful staff development network for the North-West.  She facilitates meetings where all voices are heard, carefully encouraging different voices around the room and broader inclusion at meetings and interest groups. Her peers recognise Tracy’s dedication to supporting others and encouraging greater engagement from all.”

2023 Developing Excellent Practice Award Winners – Initiative of the Year

University of Leeds – Digital Literacy – Learning to log on

Harriet Boatwright, John Dodds and Dawn Abel

Context: A digital literacy initiative created by three individuals from different services and directorates with one clear goal; to ensure that every member of our staff community had access to a university email address to ensure they received university updates, could check their online pay slips, access free Wi-Fi on campus via eduroam, have access to information on staff benefits, well-being resources and online learning resources.

The University of Sheffield – Sheffield Leader: Management Fundamentals – An aspiring and early management development programme

Naomi McNulty, Emma Jepson, Beth Rodgers, Emma Murdoch, Chloe Davey, Ian Cadwallader and Kennis Cho

Context: A self-nominated, 10-module development programme, which takes place over 6 months. Two intakes of the programme are delivered each year, with 100 participants enrolled on each intake, split up into 4 cohorts. The programme includes a mix of in person and virtual modules, delivered over full or half days, and is supported by a community of practice and additional resources. The key aim for the programme is to enable individuals to develop the foundational knowledge, practical skills and behaviours to perform and succeed in their current or future leadership role. 

University of Birmingham – Managing People Toolkit

Vincent Cornelius, Kate Crane, Paul Compton, Jo Higton, Vincent O’Grady, Laura Harding, James Cull, Stuart Harvey & team, Kerry Spooner & team, Philippa Hawkins & team, Monique Myers & team, Rebecca Lewis and Hilary Brown

Context: An online hub for all people who manage the work of others at the University in any context. It lays out the standards expected when managing people and provides learning materials in support. Built in collaboration with staff across the institution, the content relates to the University of Birmingham Strategic Framework 2030

2022 Developing Excellent Practice Award Winner – Danny Benton, University of Huddersfield: ‘Developing our entire people manager population’

Shortlisted for this award were:

Danny Benton, University of Huddersfield for the nomination ‘Developing our entire people manager population’

Judges comments: Impressive long-term commitment to creating a learning culture, role-modelled by the Vice Chancellor. Focusing on work-based and strategic learning clearly had a positive impact, demonstrated by the return on investment. A really impactful programme that improves the quality and standard of leadership and management in the Institution. A deliberate intention towards recognition that leadership and management is a profession alongside others, feels future forward. The programme offers a blended learning approach that is engaging to the learners and has had demonstrable impact on the application of learning.

Zoe Irvine and Kass Hawkley, University of Portsmouth for the nomination ‘iLead: Inclusive Leadership Exploration and Discovery at UoP’

Judges comments: This programme shows that a focused intention for development can enable positive engagement. The mix of learning approaches based on clear programme principles and the inclusive thread have come together well. This initiative which has been well thought out supports a clear drive to establish values-based leadership at all levels of the university.

Kelly Vere, University of Nottingham for the nomination ‘The Herschel programme for Women in technical leadership’

Judges comments: An outstanding example of working in partnership across universities to meet a defined and important development need. The delegates’ stories were fantastic and highlighted a positive personal impact. An impactful programme with a clear target audience of learners to try and fill a skills gap and improve the number of women leaders in technical leadership roles.

2021 Developing Excellent Practice Award Joint Winners – Kathryn Miller, University of Bristol: ‘Elevate’ and Satu Kapiainen, University of Edinburgh: ‘Digital Skills Festival’

Shortlisted for this award were:

Kathryn Miller, University of Bristol for the nomination ‘Elevate’. 

Judges comments: It’s great to see universities working collaboratively to bring together a programme that supports their collective agendas. It is also good to see that this type of collaborative project can lead to further collaborations due to the new relationships being formed. It is also great to see that this is not seen as a one of programme but there are plans to support the participants via other interventions and undertake longer term assessment of outcomes.

Satu Kapiainen, University of Edinburgh for the nomination ‘Digital Skills Festival’Judges comments: This type of initiative appeals to all and brings together expertise from all across the organisation. Some of the titles of the sessions are really appealing and it is obvious that the event organisers were keen to promote inclusivity. It is an example of what can be achieved if there is sufficient motivation for everyone to contribute. What makes it more appealing as an organisational intervention that is relevant to so many is that it has been achieved with no budget!

2020 Developing Excellent Practice Award Winner – Matt Davis & Alexandra Owen, University of Liverpool for the nomination ‘Developing Practice Podcast’

Shortlisted for this award were:

Matt Davis & Alexandra Owen, University of Liverpool for the nomination ‘Developing Practice Podcast’

Judges comments: Innovative, collaborative, inspirational. It has international reach, contributing to the reputation and prestige of the institution. Good collaboration between OD and academic development colleagues connecting academic and PS staff; a great example of the knowledge sharing between teams.  Particularly like the anytime aspect of the podcast for those that were unable to attend scheduled sessions and the empowering nature of enabling others to lead.

Christian McGrath & Helen Connor, University of Huddersfield for the nomination ‘Jazz Up Your Day (JUYD)’

Judges comments: The topics covered were highly relevant and transferable. These are certainly themes many are struggling with. Good sharing of experience and tips as well as inclusion of interactive elements demonstrating good use of technology. Enjoyed the intentional focus on a more lighthearted and creative approach and the focus on humour and joy in its creation.