The latest insights on narrative, storytelling and leadership in higher education.

Creating TEF Subject narratives

Do you need the impact of your excellence in learning and teaching to shine? We are uniquely-placed to partner with you in distilling and refining your university’s narratives for Subject TEF.

We’ll work in partnership with you to enable your institution to produce confident, distinctive draft submissions for Subject TEF. Using a collaborative, co-creative approach which engages your teaching teams, students and subject leaders, we’ll draw on each Subject team’s shared values and educational strengths to identify the ‘golden thread’ which makes it stand out. We’ll use relevant metrics and supplementary data sources to help your teams organise draft submissions which highlight compelling evidence on teaching quality, the learning environment and student outcomes.


Working with combined Subject teams of academic leaders and students, we will partner with you to hold a sequence of events to help you prepare for Subject-level TEF.

Beginning with a one-day plenary workshop to bring together the University’s community of Subject team leaders, student representatives and senior colleagues such as Heads of School, we will establish the key principles for writing with impact, and start to develop initial Subject narratives. During this session we’ll set expectations for what teams from each participating Subject will need to undertake throughout the programme to benefit from the experience.

We’ll agree a schedule with you for short, Subject-specific workshops for each team working on a draft submission, and facilitate these a few weeks after the plenary day.

Following the Subject workshop sessions, team members will agree follow-up actions to allow them to draft 5-page Subject TEF submissions. If required, we can provide feedback to institutions on the drafts which are produced after the Subject-specific workshops.

What the programme will achieve

Subject teams will:

  • Benefit from a consistent, institution-wide approach to supporting academic teams in drafting Subject TEF narratives
  • Work with colleagues from other disciplines to share perspectives on what makes their subjects distinctive
  • Experience and practise new techniques and approaches to write their subject narratives with clarity and impact
  • Draw on a range of data sources to evidence the impact of their practice across the TEF criteria
  • Draw on a voice and personality, appropriate to the academic discipline and programmes of study, to prioritise key messages of impact

Our approach

We’ll design our two-stage process to align with your institution’s timescale for drafting Subject TEF submissions.

Using creative techniques during the plenary day, we’ll work with colleagues to draw out compelling narrative threads of their Subject area, and use this to build energy and momentum for drafting their wider Subject narratives.  Between the plenary workshop and Subject-specific workshops, we’ll task participants to develop their initial narrative output and bring this with them. Then, working closely with the Subject teams during two-hour workshop sessions, we’ll help refine their narratives in line with TEF criteria.

Throughout the whole programme we’ill focus on nurturing participants’ confidence, and how they can apply this to create a distinctive and compelling Subject narrative.

Next steps

The length, breadth and scale of the programme is designed to meet your needs and achieve the outcomes you are looking for. To find out more, please contact Paul Gentle, Academic Director.

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Case Study: Working in partnership to develop the University’s Teaching Excellence narrative

Sheffield Hallam University

In the summer of 2018, Invisible Grail was invited to work in partnership with colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University to capture and express the University’s narrative of teaching excellence in preparation for future submissions to the TEF.

How sticky is your TEF submission?

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) isn’t all about metrics. It’s also about the story you tell.

Client Relationship Director Graham Holden offers advice on how to tap into the best, stickiest parts of the student experience, and translate this into a compelling narrative.

Why teaching and learning needs a narrative

Teaching and learning are integral to the wider student experience, but without a clear vision and narrative these activities can feel disjointed for those that lead and live them.

Graham Holden examines how we can use narrative to create a cohesive student experience, and leaves you with three questions to consider when thinking about what this looks like for your own institution.