The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has launched the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research during an event at its IQ building, part of the University’s new SA1 Swansea Waterfront development.
Formerly known as the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning, the newly-launched Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research (WAPPAR) provides innovative, flexible and bespoke development for organisations and people, and works with clients to provide solutions specific to their needs and context.
The Academy’s unique methods of delivery mean that its service is timely and cost-effective and aims to developing employees to optimise their contribution to their organisation. It recognises their past experience and provides academic credentials that evidence their achievements and applies cutting edge solutions to future proof talent and enhance leadership skills. The Academy also works alongside organisations to maximise the strategic impact of their training budgets.
With over 2,000 graduates from its programmes, the Academy has an enviable track record of supporting organisations and their people in Wales and further afield with clients from as far afield as South Africa, Mauritius and the USA.
“The Academy has grown from our real passion for developing people in work at all levels so they can flourish and achieve,” says Dr Annette Fillery-Travis, Head of the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research.
“Over the last two years we have been working to revamp our offer to individuals and organisations to provide a new vision for Learning and Development. We wanted to provide a new offer – a learning system – focussed on real relevance to work where people and their organisations could choose the design of their programme to best suit their learning needs; the strategic agenda of their organisation and the student’s lifestyle. This system would then be delivered through excellent coaching and mentoring by tutors originating from varied professional fields themselves,” adds Dr Fillery-Travis.
The Launch of UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research showcased this learning system and highlighted how its students continue to work full time, taking minimal time off and still able to achieve undergraduate and postgraduate certificates qualifications including doctorates in professional practice.
Sarah Haggett, Headteacher at Craig yr Hesg Primary School in Pontypridd, part of the Fern Federation, took part in today’s launch and spoke about the importance of professional development – from both her own perspective as a MA Professional Practice student and as a leader who’s encouraged numerous members of staff to enhance their skills by studying with the Academy.
“For me, it was really important to study in this type of way because I’m a full-time working mother who holds a leadership role and it’s allowed me the flexibility to be able to combine my studies and continue with my work without it impacting on either. It allowed me a flexible approach to develop my own professional learning and to continue to have somewhat of a home-work life balance. The opportunity to develop as a reflective practitioner and leader has been very beneficial to me and to those around me – I’ve loved it.
“As a Fern Federation, we’re very much committed to professional learning,” continues Sarah. “Every member of staff within the school – no matter what their role or responsibility – has been afforded the opportunity to take on this learning approach – whether that’s Learning Support Assistants accessing a degree course or teachers and LSAs who already have their undergraduate degrees deciding to take on a Master’s.”
The topics of the students’ studies within the Academy are focused on what they need to achieve in their workplace and not just an academic subject.
“The programmes include workplace research projects where students can make a real impact within their organisation by driving the strategic agenda. But we also wanted to be able to recognise the expertise and learning that students bring to their programme so we offer all our students the opportunity to claim up to 2/3 of their degree for prior learning. This means our students can complete a master’s in approximately eighteen months whilst working full-time” continues Dr Fillery-Travis.
Some of the Academy’s students come to UWTSD individually are given a dedicated learning advisor to help them design their programme to suit their needs. These students come from all walks of life – from diverse sectors such as the police, hospitality, pharmacy and those working with animal welfare. They learn at their own pace with access to workshops, individual tutorials as well as on-line resources but there is always a personal tutor available and dedicated to guiding them through their programme.
But a significant part of the Academy’s work is with organisations – both public and private – where UWTSD partner with them to provide highly-tailored training and development for their people.
“This can embrace those critical skills in professional practice such as leadership, change management and project management but it will always be tailored to the strategic objectives of the organisation,” says Dr Fillery-Travis. “Our clients have included schools, county councils as well as organisations such as Coastal Housing and Tata Steel. Again we are not interested in one-off events that go nowhere. Our programmes are designed so the learners are supported to apply their learning within their workplace through work-based projects.”