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Arecent article on Wonkhe from Kate Black on “doing academic careers differently” is likely to have resonated with many education-focused readers from across academia in the UK and beyond. It certainly resonated with us, some of the founding members of the UK’s National Learning and Teaching Focused Network.

We are all learning and teaching focused academics, we have all made career choices focused on the vocation of education, but we are all extremely different – and in our diversity we represent the 36 per cent of UK academics who are learning and teaching focused. But it is precisely our difference and our diversity that makes us hard to classify and therefore hard to support in our career development.

For colleagues on a teaching and research contract there is a very standard and well understood trajectory. It doesn’t matter whether those colleagues do Archaeology or Zoology, or any subject in between, the progression from doctoral researcher to postdoctoral researcher then lecturer, senior lecturer, reader and professor, or whatever the equivalents of these roles are called at your institution, is fairly straightforward and is underpinned by a series of metrics understood across the academy – the holy trinity of Pounds, Publications and PhDs.

Yet for most education-focused colleagues across the UK, none of these things are contractually required or factored into workloads, and this can leave promotions panels, line managers, and education-focused colleagues themselves unclear about what they need to do in order to develop and progress, or support or assess another’s development. Black identifies a series of barriers, including sector-wide confusion about what education-focused roles constitute and how to measure and understand the impact of scholarship in a way that moves beyond REF-shaped metrics. A further challenge is a lack of time in which to achieve this work, exacerbated by there being no agreement as to what the “work” is, or the breadth and diversity that can or should be included.

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