UCL prof named ‘Law Teacher of the Year’

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By Alex Aldridge on

Jane Holder beats off competition from, among others, universities of Leeds and Bangor to scoop random popular award


Since its inception in 2008, the ‘Law Teacher of the Year’ award has generated plenty of raised eyebrows.

Is there a truth to be unearthed by somehow whittling down Britain’s law lecturers to a shortlist of six stars, before bestowing a crown upon one of them?

Well, Oxford University Press (OUP), the sponsor of ‘Law Teacher of the Year’, seems to think so, as do past winners of the competition who have benefitted from the profile the award has given them.

Take 2010 winner Rebecca Huxley-Binns, who since bagging the accolade has risen from lecturer to professor at Nottingham Trent University while becoming chair of the Association of Law Teachers.

So we’ll play along with the fun.

This year’s winner, Jane Holder of UCL’s law department, is already a professor, so who knows what the next step could be for her.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Holder — who teaches planning, environmental and EU law, saw off — was on Friday deemed a better law teacher than the other five on the shortlist: Paula Blakemore of Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Bangor University’s Ama Eyo, Emily Finch of Surrey University, Esther McGuinness of Ulster University, and Leeds University’s Nick Taylor.

In the wake of her win — which brings not only kudos but £3,000 in prize money — Holder insisted that the competition carried meaning, commenting:

“The Law Teacher of the Year award is so meaningful because you go through the process of really thinking about your teaching — both the good bits, and the bits that can be improved — and it offers a valuable opportunity to learn from the other nominees”.

According to competition organisers, Holder’s win “comes after a rigorous judging process” which began in October. Having received a “wealth of nominations”, the shortlist was selected on the basis of lecturers’ inferred teaching prowess.

Then each of the chosen six was visited by a judging panel — made up of more law lecturers plus an OUP marketing bod — which observed the lecturers in action, before speaking to their students, colleagues and head of department.