Judith Francois awarded a National Teaching Fellowship from Advance HE
Judith Francois, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Leadership and Management in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship from Advance HE. Judith has been recognised for her work in creating a number of innovative and pioneering initiatives for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students and nurses.
The award celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding impact in teaching within Higher Education, and Judith was amongst the 56 new National Teaching Fellows announced at the beginning of August.
Judith was appointed as the new Associate Dean for Access and Participation in June 2020 and, as well as being a Senior Lecturer, leads on Admissions for the Nursing Associate programme and is Tutor for Recognition of Prior Learning in the School of Nursing. She is also the Co-Chair for the Student workstream of the institutional review of race equality at St George’s that was launched in June.
Reflective tools and training leaders
Advance HE highlighted a number of Judith’s projects for particular mention, one of these was the development of bespoke reflective tools. These were designed to support trained nurses and students’ mental health, aid personal tutors and facilitate students in helping each other within support sessions. Speaking of the initiative Judith said, "We have helped them unpick their own resilience and this is useful when our student nurses are out on practice. It's about giving them the tools and confidence to think about how they are feeling about certain situations more in the moment – rather than just reflecting after the event".
Judith has also created a successful leadership programme for nurses. The five-day Harnessing BAME Mental Health Nurses' Talent Programme has welcomed over 70 participants and was shortlisted for a Royal College of Nursing Institute award in 2019. The initiative is part-funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing and run in partnership with South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust, and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Reflecting on the programme Judith said, "As a black woman, I am very aware of the struggles people from BAME backgrounds face in gaining recognition and progressing higher up the ladder, so establishing this programme was an opportunity for me to try and make a difference.
“We work with people from across the profession, providing safe, supportive spaces where they can share their lived experiences and are encouraged to recognise and value their own diversity."
The initiative has been incredibly effective, inspiring both individual and organisational change. This can be seen in the participants leading positive change within their work through 70 new improvement projects created as part of the course. The programme has also been shown to improve retention and progression of staff, with 18 participants shortlisted for new positions and 14 successful in applying for new roles mostly at higher grades out of a single cohort of 35.
In her work looking at ways to address the gap in degree outcomes between white students and black students, Judith utilised the power of storytelling in a sector leading project. Working with a community storyteller through London based organisation StoryAID, she created a programme of workshops for first year students who identified themselves as coming from a BAME background. Each workshop had a broad theme such as discovering self, managing stress and connecting with heritage, and within this framework students were given space to talk openly about their experiences.
The programme began in 2017 and feedback from students has shown that it enabled participants to fully engage with their degrees, increased their confidence and had a continued positive impact throughout their studies. The initiative has also been covered in the nursing press numerous times since its launch.
Professor Jane Saffell, Deputy Principal Education, said of Judith’s achievements, ”I am delighted that Judith’s outstanding work in the Faculty has been recognised with the award of this Fellowship and am pleased that the Access and Participation work across St George’s is enriched by the wealth of expertise and innovative thinking Judith brings to the role of Associate Dean.”
To find out more about the award and Judith’s work please see here and here.