Staff profile

Anya  Perera

Dr Anya Perera

Role

Head of School for Sustainable Environments & Design

Biography

Teaching and learning is at the heart of what we do at Writtle University College and I am proud to be part of a thriving teaching community that is very much focused on enhancing the students’ learning experience. Much of my career has revolved around teaching and I still actively contribute to modules at all levels of the BSc and on the MSc programmes. We understand the students embarking on a degree are taking their first steps towards securing a graduate job and much of my work has focussed on helping students make the transition to study at this level, by embedding skills that are needed for both their academic and career success. At master's level, we refine and extend these skills giving students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of leadership and project planning.

My training began as a Botanist and Plant Pathologist and my approach to teaching is to instil confidence and promote critical questioning, helping students appreciate the science behind practical applications and developments in their chosen disciplines. In my current role as Head of School for Sustainable Environments & Design, I facilitate innovations in the curriculum, its design, the approach to assessment, content and delivery for courses with a land-based and environmental context such as horticulture, agriculture, floristry, landscape architecture, garden design and art and environment. I feel that tutor-student dialogue is essential in supporting students in a journey towards independent learning, and this helps students set their own goals for improvement.

A major focus this year has been to embed a multidisciplinary ethos in the School, reflecting team work in industry, helping to retain specialisms but make connections between schemes. I am constantly learning from my peers - improving and refining my own teaching and I have been fortunate in gaining recognition for teaching by winning a University of Essex teaching award, a National Teaching Fellowship and student-led teaching award for overall excellence.

I have a long term interest in quality assurance, student engagement and with student transition to studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In my role as Head of School, I am able to witness first-hand the impact of institutional initiatives, policies and procedures on the student experience - a valuable insight that helps with continual improvement. Students are encouraged to play an active role in the life of the School, contributing to changes and improvements through discussions, taking active leads in enhancement through the student- staff partnership. .

In my own career I have been fortunate to have had inspirational teachers and colleagues and I realise that any leadership role requires a commitment to continual improvement if excellence is to be achieved. I am fortunate to work in areas that have a direct impact on the food we eat, the world we live in and our own health and well being. The value of these disciplines is clear and it is a privilege to work with students who will be at the forefront of their respective disciplines, leading future industry / sector thinking and decision making.

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) Botany (University of Durham)
MSc Technology of Crop Production (University of Reading)
PhD Plant Pathology (Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London)
Diploma of Imperial College
Fellow HE Academy

Subject Areas

Plant Science, Plant Pathology, Crop Protection

Research

I am undertaking a pilot study on the perceptions and effectiveness of formative assessment used with first year HE students at Writtle College and on skills development at Level 7. This is investigating the use of synoptic assessments to strengthen cross-modular learning and skills development. This reflects the integrated thinking needed for projects in the work place.