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Dr Val Williams receives University award for supporting student education

Dr Val Williams, Reader in Disability, Research and Practice at the Norah Fry Research Centre, was awarded the University Teaching and Learning Award recently for her outstanding contribution to supporting student education.

Only six academics from across the University are awarded the prize each year, and are nominated by their fellow academics and support staff.

The judging panel wrote of Dr Williams:

'Dr Val Williams has made an extremely valuable, distinctive and innovative contribution to student learning at the University of Bristol.

'Until 2008 the Norah Fry Research Centre was a research only centre. Through Dr William’s commitment and energy a Masters in Inclusive research and Practice was initiated. Directed at service providers for people with learning disabilities the programme was innovative in its emphasis on ‘inclusion’ of people with learning disabilities, its commitment to change in services and its inclusion of students who may not otherwise have undertaken university graduate study.

'The Masters programme has included people with learning disabilities as lecturers and co-presenters of the teaching programme. This creative approach led students in the programme to have direct contact with people with learning disabilities in a role that was completely different to ‘service users’ and supported the possibility of values and attitude change among students.

'The response of students to the Masters programme has been extremely positive and it has now been incorporated as a Masters in Disability Studies: Inclusive Theory and Practice, within the School. This has broadened the range of students and allowed for disability issues to be more widely known among students undertaking graduate work in social policy and social work.

'The development of the Masters programme has included academic staff as unit co-ordinators who have had previously little experience in university teaching. Dr Williams has provided mentoring and support for those people who have become involved in the programme, providing them with new skills and confidence in teaching.

'Dr Williams’ skills and commitment in teaching were recently recognised by an invitation to run a workshop for the ESRC Research Methods Centre titled ‘An introduction to conversation analysis in inclusive research’. This workshop involved people with learning disabilities as co-presenters.'

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