Critical Friends and Effective Practice

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Peter Chatterton
28 April 2011

Effective management and support are essential to ensure sustainable innovation and embedding of new educational practice. In the last few years, reflecting this importance, funding agencies like JISC and the Higher Education Academy have experimented with and evaluated different models of project support and coordination, including initiatives such as Change Academy.  One increasingly popular approach is the use of the ‘Critical Friend’, often (but not exclusively) associated with the use of CAMEL groups where different projects come together in a spirit of open collaboration to share ideas and experience.

JISC has supported the development of a guide "Critical Friends and Effective Practice". This resource summarises the current guidance associated with the role of critical friends and provides links to further resources. The advice is based on the experience of critical friends from the initiatives mentioned above and on the developing evidence base on the application and effectiveness of the role. 

 The guidance is aimed at a range of audiences:

  • Programme/project sponsors can use this guide to decide whether they wish to adopt the critical friend model and clarify their expectations of the role.
  • Project teams can use this guide to clarify their expectations of the role and plan their interventions and meetings.
  • Critical friends who are new to the role can use this guide to clarify their expectations of the role and plan their interventions and meetings.
  • Experienced critical friends can use this guide to review their own behaviour in context and plan their interventions and meetings.

You can access specific sections of the guide as follows:


About this guide

Background and Context

How the Critical Friend role has developed

Why use a Critical Friend

Use of Critical Friends in different contexts

Sourcing and funding Critical Friends 

Understanding the role of the Critical Friend

The relationship with sponsors

The relationship with CAMEL cohorts

Key skills, experience and attributes

Benefits of the Critical Friend role

Guidelines for Critical Friends

Working with individual projects and parent institutions

Dealing with specific project issues

Working with CAMEL cohorts 

Working with sponsors

Working with other Critical Friends

Guidelines for Stakeholders

Specific guidelines for project teams

Specific guidelines for sponsors 

Critical Friend Resources

Critical Friend video interviews

Further Resources

Extra content

Embedded Content


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