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Developing Excellent Practice Awards

AdvanceHE logoDeveloping Excellent Practice Award 2023 – sponsored by Advance HE

The Staff Development Forum is delighted to announce the 2023 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 2023 Festival of Learning and Development’s overarching theme of ‘Innovating, nourishing and storytelling: The evolving L&D professional’. 

Developing Excellent Practice Award – Initiative of the year

Shortlisted entrants will be notified by Thursday 28th September 2023 and must complete an electronic submission of additional material (PowerPoint slide show or video) online by 3pm, Thursday 12th October 2023, 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 Monday 16th October 2023.

Please submit your completed online form by 3pm, Thursday 28th September 2023 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 14th November 2023 by an Advance HE Representative.

Dr Rossana Espinoza
SDF Chair

Previous Winners

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.