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Professor Owen Barr, Professor of Nursing and Intellectual Disabilities at Ulster University, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship for 2020.

Professor Barr is a leader in nurse education, previously a Head of School of Nursing for almost 10 years and holds Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA).

The National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) Scheme celebrates and recognises individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education, and on hearing news of his National Teaching Fellowship, Professor Barr said:

“I am delighted that I have been successful in this process and the opportunities it will provide to highlight the experience of students at Ulster and my work in developing both education about and practice initiatives to support people with learning disabilities and their families.

“My commitment and passion continue to drive me to develop and deliver transformative student learning opportunities to ensure all people, and especially people with learning disabilities, have high quality, safe and effective healthcare experiences. This is important to me not only on a professional level but also from personal experience as a sibling of two younger brothers with learning disabilities.

“After 26 years in higher education, I will continue to intentionally invest in my personal development as an educator to provide transformative learning opportunities. “This National Teaching Fellowship award will greatly enhance the scope for me to continue developing my scholarship of learning and teaching, through an international network of committed expert educators.”

His leadership in nurse education has a national and international impact, extending beyond his core university role. For over 30 years he has co-produced learning opportunities and resources through working collaborative with people with learning disabilities and their families.

Prior to working for Ulster University, Owen held posts as a Registered Nurse (Adult), Registered Nurse (Learning Disability) and Community Nurse (Learning Disability) across services in Northern Ireland and England. His experiences and subsequent research led him to developing transformative co-designed, solution-focused teaching and learning relating to effective support for people with learning disabilities accessing healthcare. Building on his work in undergraduate nursing, he expanded these learning opportunities to paramedics, post graduate nurses, and physician associates.

His focus is on educating health professionals and developing national standards for nurse education to support people with learning disabilities when they access general healthcare services. He is changing the practice of healthcare professionals in supporting people with learning disabilities, nationally and internationally through developing practice guidelines and accessible educational resources. He has actively contributed at a national level to the development of standards for nurse education that impact on the teaching and learning of all pre-registration nurses across the United Kingdom. He is currently the Chair of the Standards Delivery Group developing national standards for community nurses with colleagues from across the UK and at the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Professor Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer commented:

"I congratulate Owen on this wonderful achievement. This award recognises Owen’s passion, commitment, expertise and dedication to his profession but more importantly to making a real difference to the lives of people with a learning disability. Owen is held in high regard by his professional colleagues and Northern Ireland is lucky to have nurse educators with such fantastic leadership and advocacy skills."