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2019 award winner outlines 10 steps for NTFS success

16 Oct 2019 | Leisa Nichols-Drew National Teaching Fellow 2019 Leisa Nichols-Drew is a Forensic Science Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University. In this blog she gives advice to those applying for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme.

I am so incredibly honoured to be a 2019 National Teaching Fellow at De Montfort University (DMU) and this prestigious award is the pinnacle of my career.

DMU has a successful track record with generating National Teaching Fellows and I happen to be number 22! Forensic science has been my life for almost 20 years and to share this passion with others through opportunities for teaching and learning is amazing.

I have always been fascinated in how people learn and this is at the heart of what I do, whether in a technical training workplace setting, in further education or in higher education. In fact, it has been mutually beneficial in that I learn from my students and colleagues just as much as they may learn the principles and applications of forensic science from me. It is my intention to liaise with other NTFS winners to share best practice, which when disseminated, will ultimately help my students and colleagues at DMU.


The advice I would like to share with anyone thinking of applying in future or currently preparing to apply for a National Teaching Fellowship is included in the following 10 steps:

1. Be Constant

Think of yourself as an escalator continually moving upwards. I use this to symbolise my Continual Professional Development - whether a professional membership, internal staff training or external conference attendance - these will aid your progress).

2. Be Reflective

Reflection is integral to my practice in allowing me to improve.

3. Be Organised

Start gathering your evidence at the earliest opportunity and attend helpful workshops facilitated by Advance HE and successful NTFs - either online or at a regional location.

4. Be Prepared

I was fortunate that at my university we have the Teacher Fellow network which formed the foundation for my NTF journey.

5. Be Supported

My mentor Professor Angela O'Sullivan was my absolute rock throughout the entire process and I honestly could not have contemplated applying without their guidance, or without my home support.

6. Be Mindful

Always consider the three criteria and have evidence structured throughout your application. Can you tell a story and link the criteria like a thread in a tapestry?

7. Be Engaged

One of the best tips I can give you is to attend the annual symposium organised by the Association of National Teacher Fellows. There you will meet NTFs, obtain advice and experience the excitement this inspirational group of people generates.

8. Be Unique

Your NTF journey will be unique to you. Mine involved numerous roles within different institutions so communicating this to the reader in the context statement is so important.

9. Be Excited

Forensic science is my absolute passion and it is such an honour to share it with others. If you are excited about your subject area/specialism then others will be too when reading your application as it will shine through.

10. Be Proud

Remember you have been shortlisted by your institution - what an achievement in the first place!

Thank you for reading my blog - I hope it helps you to pursue your NTF dream and I look forward to perhaps meeting you at a future Association of National Teaching Fellows Symposium!


Leisa Nichols-Drew is a Forensic Science Senior Lecturer, Trainer and Consultant DMU Teacher Fellow, 2018 CATE Award Winner, 2018 Churchill Fellow and 2019 National Teaching Fellow.


Applications for NTFS 20120 are now open and close on Wednesday 18 March 2020. Institutions can nominate up to three individuals for the award. Find out more.


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