I left school after GCEs (as they were called then) aged 16. I was a disaffected and probably badly behaved student. After a series of dead end jobs, I returned to education as a ‘mature’ student and undertook a BA (Hons) degree in General Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University. I then did an MA in American Literature at the University of Leeds. After a long period of work, in 2011 I enrolled at the University of Bristol to do a Masters in Education and I am currently studying for a PhD in Education at the University of Exeter. I think I am a typical mature student in that I lack confidence in my abilities and am surprised when I do well. But I work hard and am passionate about what I do and my confidence is improving as I progress with my academic career.
The courses specialising in education at both Bristol and Exeter followed on from my work as a teacher in prison education. I wanted to understand more deeply and improve on my educational practice. Originally, I enrolled for the Master’s in Psychology, wanting to become an educational psychologist. For various reasons, I changed in the first few days to Counselling in Education and am really glad I did so.
I chose to study at the University of Bristol because it has a great reputation for research and teaching and it was commutable for me, being about an hour’s train ride away. And it is an exciting place to be. Bristol has a buzz about it – it is a multicultural city, is lively and has everything you could want.
Undoubtedly my tutor Helen Knowler had an enormous impact on my settling at Bristol and finding the right course. She was enthusiastic and passionate about her subject and this rubbed off on me. She is extremely hard working, really easy to talk to, great sense of humour and very kind and helpful. She gave me the confidence to believe in myself and to believe that I was capable of doing a PhD. I cannot praise her enough.
I enjoyed all Helen Knowler’s courses and Tim Bond’s classes where I felt I learned a lot from an experienced and knowledgeable tutor. I also found the admin team of Bridgette and Duncan to be so helpful and patient towards me when I was unsure about what direction to take. I enjoyed the fact that Bristol is a multicultural university and I met and worked with people from many different parts of the world.
I also enjoyed taking part in the Educational Conference, held by the Graduate School of Education, with my group and presenting our research. Everyone was very supportive and although working with the research group had been a steep learning curve for me it all came together in the end. I liked getting my first assignment back and getting a good mark and doing my first proper research at a school.
My study at Bristol put me on the path to study for a PhD and with support from my tutors I managed to put together a proposal in which I was successful in gaining a bursary for three years of study at another excellent university. I am now in the first year of my PhD – I am at the literature review stage but will go into the field in September to do my study. I am doing a little teaching at Exeter and hope to do more teaching and research here and at other places in the future. If you are passionate about research and your particular topic go ahead and do it. It is hard work but, I believe, worth it.