Teesside University academics have achieved prestigious national recognition in the latest Advance HE Teaching Excellence Awards.

The Sports Injury Clinic team, from the School of Health & Life Sciences, comprising Paul Chesterton (Associate Professor – Learning and Teaching), Gillian Naylor (Senior Lecturer), Deborah Harris (Sport and Exercise Clinics and Placement Supervisor), and Nathan Liddle (Deputy Sport and Exercise Clinics and Placement Supervisor), has received a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE).

In addition, Dr Ann Thanaraj (Assistant Academic Registrar – Digital Transformation), and Dr Samuel Elkington (Principal Lecturer – Learning and Teaching), have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships.

The Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) is the first such accolade for the University, and it recognises the academic team’s innovative approach to engaging students in developing the clinic and enabling them to help shape their learning outcomes.


The Sports Injury Clinic offers learners the chance to put their theoretical skills into practice by treating a range of Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, in a hands-on, real-world environment.

Members of the public, University staff and other students are invited to attend the clinic, where they receive free, supervised treatment by student practitioners as part of their degree studies.

Students have been directly involved in the clinic’s development over a number of years thanks to a unique partnership approach introduced by their lecturers.

They have provided feedback and suggestions to improve the clinic’s services, and in return have benefitted from mentoring and career-based skills development opportunities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching staff involved students in deciding what services could be offered and delivered safely and effectively, both in-person and via online or telephone consultations.

Paul Chesterton said: “It is a fantastic achievement and brilliant recognition for the team to receive such a prestigious award. To be recognised as excellent nationally is a great testament to the team’s commitment to the student experience.

“Importantly, this award recognises, the integral role our students past and present have played in shaping the clinic’s philosophy and its world-class learning experience.”

Teesside University also has plans to build on the success of the sports injury clinic by extending the staff and student collaboration model to other front-facing University clinics in the future.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) showcases the outstanding impact of individuals who teach or support learning in UK higher education, and Dr Thanaraj and Dr Elkington are two of 55 new National Teaching Fellows to be announced by Advance HE today (Thursday 5 August).

Dr Thanaraj said: “As Assistant Academic Registrar, I’m responsible for leading the digital transformation of our learning and teaching at Teesside University.

“My goal is to help us achieve excellence in the ways we think about digitally transforming our curriculum across all subject disciplines.

“Being awarded a National Teaching Fellowship will allow me to help my academic colleagues at Teesside University, and across the sector as a whole, enabling us to deliver a transformative impact by equipping our students for successful careers in a variety of rapidly evolving professions and industries.”

Dr Elkington said: “I am delighted to receive recognition as a National Teaching Fellow. I feel extremely privileged to have the opportunity to work with so many talented and supportive colleagues at Teesside University through my role as Principal Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Excellence.

“Throughout my career, I have striven for excellence through partnership and collaboration. The award will provide me with the platform to continue to expand and develop this work at a national level.”

Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, said: “I am delighted to congratulate the 2021 NTFS and CATE awardees on their achievements.

“Over the years, each and every National Teaching Fellow has made an impact on the sector – both on the students they teach and on their fellow teaching staff who look to them for inspiration and guidance.

“It’s also very gratifying to see the quality of teamwork represented this year – the CATE awards really have become part of the sector landscape.

“Teamwork has been especially important in the past year with the challenges for teaching and learning as a result of social distancing.”

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