The North East College Teaching and Research Network, otherwise known as NECTAR, is a consortium of colleges based in the north-east of England with a shared aim to enhance, support and provide excellence in college-based higher education.
Currently comprised of four colleges: Newcastle College, New College Durham, Sunderland College and Middlesbrough College, we seek to establish the North East as a trailblazer for college-based research and scholarly activity (RSA) by providing a pathway and support network for research practice and scholarship within and between our colleges.
We recognise the inherent links between industry, teaching and scholarship that underpin college-based higher education. As such, NECTAR celebrates the vocational, technical and teaching passions of our staff and students and works collaboratively to align this to RSA.
Ensuring research excellence across North East college-based higher education
The NECTAR Network aims to provide a space for the sharing of best practice through which staff and student scholarly development can take place. We seek to:
• Provide a collaborative critical mass for the advancement of RSA within a College-Based higher education (CBHE) context;
• Address the challenges of inter-institutional working in a bid to establish research capabilities beyond the scope of any one college;
• Establish communities of practice with the aim of generating research funding and dissemination of research;
• Seek internal and external funding to support the development, growth and innovation of RSA and Learning & Teaching practices across the member colleges;
• Encourage shared understanding of what RSA means within a college environment;
• Provide a model of best practice for CBHE engagement with RSA, which could be mirrored in other regions across the UK;
• Work together to enhance the opportunity for, and engagement with, RSA on an institutional level.
NECTAR Steering Group
Newcastle College |
Higher Education Research & Innovation Manager
Based within the Newcastle College University Centre, Dr Watchman provides strategic academic leadership to teaching staff and students in relation to higher education scholarship, innovation and student engagement with research. Nicola is a published author with research interests spanning cultural sociology to the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is a founder member and Chair of the North East College Teaching and Research (NECTAR) Network, steering group member of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR), fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE) and sits on the Editorial Board for the HEFCE-funded Association of Colleges Scholarship Framework.
Dr Nicola Watchman
Middlesbrough College| Director of Higher Education
Leading on all strategic and operational aspects of higher education at Middlesbrough College, Paul has established a range of mechanisms to support and foster research and scholarly activity for staff and students. With over 15 years of experience of working in the higher education sector, Paul has a good track record of championing research and scholarly activity amongst College HE providers. This has included establishing regional communities of practice focussing on pedagogy, technology enhanced learning and flipped classrooms, as well as leading on the delivery of several successful HE in FE conferences on behalf of the Teesside University Higher Education Business Partnership.
Sunderland College | Director of Higher Education, Participation & Skills
Sally is the Director of Higher Education, Participation and Skills. In this role, she leads the organisation on the development of our higher education provision. In addition, Sally is responsible for leading and developing high quality strategic partnerships with employers, university partners and key stakeholders in order to develop existing, new and flexible models of provision, improve quality and address regional priorities and skills needs.
Before joining Sunderland College, Sally worked for The Manchester College and the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education where she worked on the successful application and scrutiny for Foundation Degree Awarding Powers
Communities Of Practice
NECTAR is actualised within four distinct communities of practice. Through this shared domain we engage in a process of collective learning and endeavour to shape college based higher education (CBHE) within the areas of Alternative & Informal Learning, Student Support, Engaging in Level 6 +, and Technology-Enhanced Learning.
Alternative & Informal Learning
Our institutions provide an alternative learning environment where students benefit from small class sizes, close relationships between students and teachers, and a greater sense of community. In this unique environment we have the opportunity to explore innovative and informal learning techniques that include flipped learning, alternative assessment provision, and new feedback techniques. Sunderland College is the lead institution for this Community of Practice, but it also allows all four colleges to come together to explore innovative and exciting teaching practices.
Student support and Wellbeing
As institutions we are proud to cater to students who take a non-traditional route into higher education. Student support within CBHE is critical in ensuring all students get the very best out of their time with us. This community of practice encourages collaboration between colleges to explore how we can best support our students in terms of academic, pastoral, mental health, and wellbeing support.
Engaging in Level 6 +
Our academic staff have a wealth of vocational technical experience and skills but may require some support in developing research-engaged teaching and scholarship. Our Engaging in Level 6+ Community of Practice allows us to further develop our research communities and to explore what teaching at Level 6 looks like for our staff and students. This involves researching alternative teaching methods, encouraging research informed teaching and the creation of a doctoral study forum for our staff working towards to higher qualifications.
Technology - Enhanced Learning
The use of technology to maximize the student learning experience is a vibrant area of interest across education globally, and one we are keen to expand. As such, one aspect of our Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Community of Practice is to identify and implement opportunities for the use of technology within our classrooms. Currently, we are exploring the benefits and potential for audio and video feedback, student engagement via technologically enhanced mediums such as podcasts, blended and distance learning (e-learning), interactive resources and the effective utilization of VLEs. In this, Newcastle College University Centre functions as the lead institution.