Meet our Alumni: Chris Fairclough

Chris Fairclough
Technical Teaching Fellow, 2020

When I was first notified that I was going to become a Technical Teaching Fellow, funded by the Royal Commission, I was immensely proud. However, I’m also not worried to admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the extent of the Royal Commission's work within Engineering, Science and Technology. It was only until the awards day at The Royal Society in January 2020, where it started to hit home with me, the exclusivity of the club I was becoming a part of.

Nigel Williams, now retired as the Secretary/Chief Executive of the Commission, gave a fantastic introduction to the Royal Commission, including its rich heritage and history and the work that it does to support the development of STEM in the UK. Being in such a wonderful environment as the Royal Society is, coupled with Nigel’s fantastic story telling, gave me an appreciation of the expectations that were about to placed upon me.

My Fellowship was a Technical Teaching Fellowship, in partnership with the Education and Training Foundation and the Society of Education and Training, whilst being funded by the Royal Commission. The Project I proposed was to share good practice across the FE sector in England and the Fellowship would allow me the time and funding to be able to do so.

The area I had chosen to focus on was the idea of Experiential Learning, in other words, learning by experience. Humans naturally learn by gaining experience in what it is they are trying to learn. Take a toddler learning to walk for example. However, when kids enter the school system, we seem to think that the most efficient way of learning is to focus on Knowledge, without paying much attention to Skills and Behaviour development.

Experiential Learning isn’t a new concept, however, The National College for Nuclear Experiential Learning Model was designed to bridge the gap between theory based teaching and experience based teaching. The process uses real world scenarios and real world equipment to ensure that learners are not just learning the theory, but are also understanding the importance of that theory. This ensures learners are developing their work based skills and are becoming work ready, in a safe and simulated environment.

Being awarded this Fellowship has allowed me to become a Fellow of SET, has increased my personal profile and the profile of the College. As part of the Fellowship, I have presented at conferences, written articles for publications, involved in the development of CPD courses for FE staff in England, I’ve been used in video case studies and I’ve had the opportunity to present at The Royal Society, all of which wouldn’t have happened without the Fellowship.

To be able to say I am an Alumni of the Royal Commission which includes names like Ernest Rutherford, is an absolute privilege. Being a Nuclear Engineer by trade, Rutherford is an icon in the history of the Nuclear Industry and to be able to say I am now part of an alumni group that includes such high profile names such as Rutherford and Higgs, is honestly mind blowing.

I would like to thank the Royal Commission for giving me the opportunity to become a member of this amazing organisation.

ETF TTF 14914