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Claire Dewhirst

Photo of Claire Dewhirst

Dr Claire Dewhirst PFHEA


Dr Claire Dewhirst is currently Head of the Centre for Educational Development. She has been in this post for seven years. Claire started out her professional life as a teacher of Geography and Modern Studies in Scotland. She then moved into Teacher Education at Stirling University where she held the posts of Director of Initial Teacher Education and Director of Learning and Teaching. She moved to Queen’s just over ten years ago, taking up the post of the first Research Impact Manager before moving into her current role. Unusually she has held both academic and academic related professional support roles throughout her career.

When asked to reflect on “what does being a Principal Fellow mean to you?” Claire answered:

In my role as the Head of the Centre for Educational Development it was important to me to gain this national award to demonstrate my achievements in Higher Education. There are over 100,000 Fellows of all levels globally but just over 1000 of these are Principal Fellows. The process to achieve this recognition is tough and it took me well over a year to prepare my application! Alongside my Doctorate (in Education) it provides an important validation of my experiences at a strategic level as well as evidencing my pedagogic practices. In other words, I hope that it gives my academic colleagues across the university confidence in my 30 years’ experience in education and my commitment to their pedagogic needs, as well as the wider student experience. Universities, these days, have a wide variety of roles and too often there can be a tension between those in academic roles and those who sit within a professional support or academic related role. To me one of the key differences is that in my role I do not need to be a discipline expert but I do need to understand good practice to support those who are discipline experts in their delivery. I also believe that it is good to see people,  such as myself, going for these awards and that is why the Queen’s Merit Award will support anyone in a student-facing role to gain Fellowship accreditation.