Department of Social Work and Social Care


National Teaching Fellowship for Social Work’s Cath

Cath Holmström (Social Work and Social Care) is to be awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS), now in its 11th year, recognises and rewards individual excellence in teaching in higher education.

Competition is fierce for the £10,000 award, organised by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE); a maximum of 55 fellowships are awarded each year.

A former Sussex student and social worker herself, it is Cath's inspirational teaching of social work and dedication to widening participation and improving the student experience that has secured her the Fellowship.

Her influential research on admissions and selection has made her one of the UK's leading voices on this aspect of social work education, most recently working in 2009-2011 as a lead researcher contributing to recommendations of the Social Work Task Force and then drafting the 'Calibre of Entrants' good practice guide to accompany the Social Work Reform Board's proposals for change.

Similarly, her research into the experience of younger students - social work degrees became accessible to students aged under 21 only in 2003 - has had significant impact, as colleague Professor Suzy Braye explains: "Her work has become a benchmark for the sector nationally and takes its rightful position as a key point of reference in the international literature."

As Director of Student Support in the School of Education and Social Work (ESW), she also plays a key role in enhancing the student experience, improving Social Work's student satisfaction scores in the National Student Survey from 48th in 2007 to first in 2009.

Indeed it is Cath's own experiences of being a student - disengaged and disruptive at school and then being inspired by enthusiastic teachers at college - that she says compels her to go "over and above" for her students. She says: "Taught at college by subject enthusiasts going out of their way to challenge my low aspirations, I made a successful transition to higher education at Sussex.

"My subsequent, unforeseen, academic successes provide me with the motivation and drive to fuel the enthusiasm and real commitment needed in professional education."

This commitment to learning and professional development has continued throughout her career, and she is now studying towards a two-year Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), which Cath says has helped her to "re-engage with student life-cycle issues".

She is no stranger to success either, having been presented with a Sussex Teaching Award in 2007, just one year after securing her first lectureship.

Cath is the sixth National Teaching Fellow at Sussex - joining Professor Andy Field (Psychology), Dr Celia Hunt (Community Engagement), Duncan Mackrill (Education), Catherine Reynolds (Careers and Employability) and Professor Imogen Taylor (Social Work).

She will now become a member of the Association of National Teaching Fellows (ANTF), which facilitates networking among Fellows and promotes innovative practice.

Cath will be presented with her award at a ceremony in London in October.

More information about the NTFS

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By: Alison Field
Last updated: Thursday, 28 July 2011