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Teaching Fellows : Induction and Probation Procedure



Scope and Purpose

1 This policy sets out the induction process for all Teaching Fellows new to UCL and guidance on their support, training and assessment within the probationary period. Separate policies exist in relation to the probation arrangements for academic staff newly appointed to a Lecturer role and new research and support staff, see


2 It is UCL policy that all staff including those on part-time and fixed term contracts who are new to UCL, undergo a probationary period during which they will be introduced to the main duties and responsibilities of their post, the performance standards expected of them, the colleagues with whom they will be working most closely and the context of their work within the department, division or UCL as a whole.


3 At the commencement of employment the Head of Department must clearly identify the academic or teaching member of staff to whom the new Teaching Fellow reports. If this is not the Head of Department s/he may delegate the managerial responsibilities in this policy to this person who is referred to as the manager in this procedure.

4 It is the manager's responsibility to ensure that Teaching Fellows new to UCL are furnished with the information necessary to enable them to commence work. As the job is explained to the new Teaching Fellow the manager must make clear any service standards relating to the work of the department or area within which the Teaching Fellow works and the performance standards related to their particular post in terms of  the:

5 The manager must also make clear how these standards will be monitored throughout the probation period and the frequency with which they will be formally reviewed.

6 As part of the induction process, the manager should discuss the individual's training and development needs with them and advise them how to book onto any appropriate developmental courses, including the induction courses provided by the Organisational Development Unit. New staff are required to gain professional recognition for their teaching expertise by gaining a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy or an equivalent award. In order to do this at UCL, they must either complete the UCL Arena Two Academic Practice Pathway, or an alternative award-bearing qualification.  Further information and support is available from theUCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (CALT) at  Guidance workshops and ‘drop in’ opportunities are provided to ensure that staff are fully aware of their options and opportunities in the Arena Room at Torrington Place: please email for further details.

7 New Teaching Fellows must also complete the online diversity training package within their first six weeks. See appendix 1 for an induction checklist.

Probation Procedure

8 During the probationary period the onus is on the manager to provide the necessary information and training that will equip the individual to undertake all aspects of their role at UCL and on the individual, to demonstrate their suitability for the post. Managers must ensure systems are in place to support and monitor the Teaching Fellow's work throughout the probationary period in order that s/he receives such assistance as is reasonable to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the post.

9 The Head of Department is responsible for assigning a mentor to the Teaching Fellow on their request. The role of the mentor is that of confidant and critical friend, an understanding and trusted colleague outside the probationary review system who assists in the development of the probationer's teaching expertise. Mentors must have a keen interest in the teaching role and a reputation as successful practitioners. They are expected to observe probationers teach each year in different student learning situations and provide formative feedback. The appointment of a mentor does not relieve the manager of the duty to provide the necessary information, training and support required by this procedure.

10 The probation period for Teaching Fellows will be 24 months.

Requirement to complete UCL Arena Two

11 If the Teaching Fellow has full responsibility for a half-course unit (or the postgraduate equivalent, including course design, preparation of sessions and assessment and marking), they should gain a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy by either completing the UCL Arena Two Academic Practice Pathway or an alternative award-bearing qualification.

12 Any Teaching Fellows who have a lesser teaching load than that defined in paragraph 11 are required to attend an Arena Open Initial Guidance session or make contact with a CALT Teaching Fellow by mailing . They will receive advice about a bespoke programme of events to attend, appropriate to their experience and role, from the UCL Arena Events calendar. With this support, they are also encouraged to gain an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy through UCL Arena Open.

13 Failure to complete the required course by the end of probation will result in the Teaching Fellow not having their appointment confirmed.

14 Probationary Teaching Fellows will be paid by their Department at their normal hourly rate of pay for the time required to attend the mandatory taught course sessions outside their working hours. Pay will be limited to 39 contact hours for UCL Arena Two. Practical teaching time is included in the course hours.  

15 If part-time Teaching Fellows increase their teaching hours to assume full responsibility for a half-course unit or the postgraduate equivalent at any time during their probation they will have to meet the requirement contained within clause 11 in order to be confirmed in post. In such circumstances the probation period may be extended to allow for the requirements of clause 11.

Exemption from UCL Arena Two

16 The Head of Department may consider whether there is a case for exemption from the requirement to complete the UCL Arena program, which represent routes to and evidence of professional recognition for Lecturers and Teaching Fellows on probation. Such exemption may be allowed if the Teaching Fellow has completed an equivalent program in another HE Institution (i.e. accredited by the Higher Education Academy) or has extensive (more than 3 years FTE) teaching experience. In the latter case, the Teaching Fellow is required to gain formal professional recognition by submitting an application for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy through the UCL Arena Open scheme.

17 If the Teaching Fellow has already completed an appropriately certificated scheme,   the Head of Department should advise the Teaching Fellow to submit an exemption form, signed by the Head of Department, to the Director of theUCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching at  In this case the Director of CALT will assess whether the previously completed program or teaching experience is sufficient. CALT will inform the HR Division, the Head of Department and the candidate of the decision. If appropriate, HR Division will re-issue a letter of appointment.

Fixed-term Contracts

18 Teaching Fellows appointed on a fixed-term contract, e.g., maternity leave or sabbatical cover for a member of staff, are invited to attend a UCL Arena Open Initial Guidance Session for advice on developing as teachers with the option of gaining recognition as Associate Fellows. If, at any stage of their employment, they are appointed on an open-ended Teaching Fellow contract they will be required to meet the above professional recognition requirements and the probation period may be extended to permit this.


19 As part of providing teaching support and development the manager is responsible for regular observation of the Teaching Fellow in various student-learning situations and for giving constructive and confidential feedback. The manager and the Teaching Fellow should agree appropriate occasions for this purpose and how such observation can be managed as naturally and unobtrusively as possible. Any performance issue identified must be raised as soon as it is noticed. Problems must not be held over for discussion at the formal reviews.

20 Heads of Department and Departmental Administrators will be reminded of the requirement to complete these reviews by the Human Resources Division and in the case of fixed term Teaching Fellows with a contract shorter than the length of the relevant probation period, the probation process will be followed for the period during which the individual is employed with UCL. The department must pass these reminders to the appropriate manager for action.

21 There may be some flexibility in the timing of the three reviews to accommodate the varied teaching patterns that Teaching Fellows may have. Each review should take place after the completion a term's teaching. At the first review the manager will formally discuss the Teaching Fellow's performance with him/her and summarise their discussion on the relevant form. The Teaching Fellow will add his/her comments to the written assessment.

22 For Teaching Fellows with full responsibility for a half-course unit or the postgraduate equivalent the first review will take place before five months. The second review will take place before the twelve month stage and the final review will take place by the twenty-one month stage.

23 Where performance is satisfactory, and subject to their successful completion of professional recognition through the UCL Arena program or an alternative award-bearing qualification, probationary Teaching Fellows will be confirmed in their post on completion of their probation period and the HR Division will write to the individual (copied to the Head of Department) to confirm this.  Following the satisfactory completion of probation, the Teaching Fellow's performance will be reviewed in line with the Appraisal, Review and Development Scheme.

24 If the first review is not satisfactory in any way the manager must discuss with the Teaching Fellow the aspects of performance which need improvement and should set clear objectives and timescales within which they will be reviewed. The Teaching Fellow should be asked if they consider that any further assistance and/or training is necessary to enable them to complete tasks to the standards expected of them. The Teaching Fellow should sign the review form and receive a copy of it to confirm that they have been made aware of the improvements required.

25 If insufficient improvement has taken place by the second review meeting, the manager must discuss with the Teaching Fellow the aspects of performance which need further improvement and should set clear objectives and timescales within which they will be reviewed. The Teaching Fellow should be asked if they consider that any further assistance and/or professional development is necessary to enable them to complete tasks to the standards expected of them. The Teaching Fellow must be informed that failure to meet the required standards may result in the termination of his/her employment. S/he should sign the review form and receive a copy of it to confirm that they have been made aware of the improvements required.

26 If at the final review meeting, insufficient improvement has taken place, the manager must arrange a further meeting; the probationer should be given 5 working days notice of the meeting and be given the right (in writing) to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative. It is advisable to ensure that a senior manager is present at the meeting, in addition to the manager who conducted the previous reviews. If termination of the appointment is likely, advice should be sought from the HR Consultancy team prior to the meeting, to ascertain whether an HR Consultant should be present. At this meeting a full review of progress should be held and a decision made to either extend the probationary period, or alternatively, to terminate the appointment at the end of the probationary period. Any decision as a result of such meeting should be confirmed in writing to the individual (in consultation with the HR Consultant).

Extension of Probationary Period

27 It may be appropriate to extend the probationary period if, through the Teaching Fellow's authorised absence e.g. maternity leave, it has not been possible to assess performance. In cases where the Teaching Fellow only teaches for one term in an academic year it will be necessary to extend the probation period to accomplish the review process.

28 In all cases where probation is extended the following must be discussed between the manager and the Teaching Fellow and confirmed in writing:

29 The probationary period may not be extended by more than six months except where the only incomplete requirement is the successful completion of the Academic Practice Pathway for Lecturers and Teaching Fellows on probation, leading to Fellowship of the HEA. In such cases probation may be extended by the Head of Department in consultation with the Director of CALT to allow sufficient time for completion.

30 Teaching Fellows will have the right to appeal against a decision to terminate their employment for failure to satisfactorily complete their probation period. An appeal must be lodged in writing with the Human Resources Director within 5 working days of receipt of confirmation of termination. The appeal will normally be heard by a senior manager not previously involved with the case. At such an appeal the Teaching Fellow has the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague.

Probation Period and Discipline and Capability

31 This policy on Induction and Probation applies in cases of under-performance throughout the probation period.

32 In the first year of their probation period in circumstances involving alleged misconduct, the Teaching Fellow will receive written notice of a disciplinary interview which will set out the details of the alleged misconduct. The Teaching Fellow will have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague and will have the opportunity to state his/her case before any decision is taken. Any case of misconduct during the first year of the probationary period may lead to dismissal and gross misconduct may lead to summary dismissal without notice. The Teaching Fellow will be informed of their right to appeal against a decision to dismiss them on the basis of misconduct and any appeal would be considered by the manager's line manager or Head of Department.

33 In the second year of their probation period the Disciplinary Procedure applies in matters involving alleged misconduct.

Notice Periods during the Probationary Period

34 During the probationary period Teaching Fellows may terminate the appointment by giving one month's notice. UCL will also give one month's notice to terminate the appointment.
See also:

Appendix 1

Induction Checklist

N.B.  Prior to taking up their post at UCL, the Teaching Fellow's Line Managers should liaise with the Teaching Fellow to ensure that they contact the UCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (CALT) at concerning participation in UCL Arena Two or completion of an alternative award-bearing qualification, by the deadline of the end of August of the year in which they wish to study. Failure to submit an application by the deadline will mean that the Teaching Fellow is unable to take the course until the following year.

On the first day a new Teaching Fellow should be provided with information on the following:

Within the first week

Within the first month

Within the first six weeks