2019 Conference


‘Embedding Student and Staff Well-Being in the  Curriculum’

took take place on

10 September 2019

at the Calman Learning Centre, Durham University

The annual North East Regional Learning And Teaching Conference was held on the 10th September 2019 hosted by Durham University building upon the success of previous partnership events held by the region’s Universities (Teesside, Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and Northumbria).

There were 2 keynote presentations.

Keynote 1:

Flourishing Education – a simple equation

Flourishing students + Flourishing staff = Flourishing institutions.

Mrs Fabienne Vailes, Language Director, School of Modern Languages, University of Bristol

Student mental wellbeing is a condition (or pre-requisite) for effective learning (Seligman, 2012) but what about staff wellbeing? Can we have flourishing institutions without flourishing students and staff?

Fabienne’s research is an extension of her book and focuses not just on the mental well-being of students but on their growth and development from a more holistic approach (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social health) to see how it impacts their university experience. It is also an attempt to see if it is possible to clearly identify a ‘flourishing’ or ‘languishing student’ using a survey with a series of specific questions and to ‘unpack’ the various strategies used by Flourishing students and Languishing students to see if there are obvious ‘levers’ that could be used to empower students to truly enjoy their studies and experiences at their Higher Education Institutions.

In this keynote, Fabienne will also explain why she believes staff well-being is as important as student well-being and why they are central pillars to a Flourishing Education and Educational System. She will be drawing from her current research  and from her recent work as Academic Advisor for the HEE Pearson Commission on the mental wellbeing of NHS staff and learners, and on emerging evidence that student wellbeing can be cultivated and supported through intentional curriculum design. Fabienne’s recent book “The Flourishing Student” is available in all good bookstores, including via Amazon.

Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre

Keynote 2:

Playful Learning to Enhance Wellbeing

Prof Nicola Whitton, Director DCAD, Durham University

Playful approaches, techniques, and tools provide opportunities to engage students with active ways of learning. However, on a deeper level embracing playfulness as a philosophy supports the development of resilience, confidence, making friendships, and enhancing wellbeing. In this talk, Nicola will discuss the elements of playful learning that can help create a safe environment in which students can learn from failure, take manage risks, have the time and freedom to explore possibilities, and solve problems creativity.

Nicola Whitton is Director of the Durham Centre for Academic Development and Professor of Education at Durham University. Her research focuses on play in adulthood, in particular games and learning in the context of Higher Education, and the potential of play in teaching, research, and academic practice. Her most recent projects have focused on the use of escape room design to provide a model for learning through failure.


Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre

Directions The 3 Rivers Conference will take place on 10th September at the Calman Learning Centre, Durham University, for directions click here.

Organising Committee: Richard Sober (Teesside) | Susan Mathieson (Northumbria) | Mark Proctor (Sunderland) | Sam Nolan (Durham) | Sue Gill (Newcastle) 


This event is recognised by the HEA