a centenary
of Learning

  • 86
  • by Li Fang
  • graduated 2012
  • studied MEd in Educational Leadership, Policy & Development (ELPD)
  • from China, UK

I returned to my home country after submitting my dissertation and received a job offer in the following week. I have been working as a Principal since then, running an international high school in Guangdong Province, China.

After completing my Bachelor of Arts at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law I took a Teaching English to Speakers of English Languages (TESOL) Diploma at Trinity College London. At the time, I was working as a manager with Education First (one of the world's leading English training companies and official language supplier of both the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games) and completed the TESOL course to better fulfil my managerial responsibilities. I already had some experience of teaching English part-time.

At Bristol, I chose the MEd Educational Leadership, Policy & Development (ELPD) to hone my leadership and management skills and to better understand the field of education (e.g. school effectiveness, education quality improvement, teacher development, educational policies in different countries and regions as well as their effects). I also wanted to think critically and strategically; to learn how to do comparative education research; to meet and be friends with excellent people in this field and to enhance my professional profile.

The University of Bristol was ranked very high according to RAE 2008 Results for Education. Although I received offers from the three universities to which I applied, the first offer came from Bristol. It was very efficient and, at the same time, I received the Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK.

Studying at the Graduate School of Education was very enjoyable. Apart from ELPD units, I also took courses from the programme of Counselling and of Psychology and really enjoyed them. These included Practical Counselling Skills I & II, Approaches to Counselling in Learning, Development Psychology and Neuroscience. I have always had an interest in counselling and psychology and I sincerely appreciate that the school gave me the opportunity to take these units apart from the ELPD courses.

My personal tutor, Dr Elizabeth McNess; the Director of ELPD, Dr Angeline Mbogo Barrett; course tutor, Mrs Elisabeth Lazarus and my dissertation tutor Ms Kate Hawkey were all great. I was very much impressed by their professional guidance and personal charisma – they were knowledgeable, passionate, inspiring, patient and responsible. There were a lot of lectures given by teachers, students or external experts and professionals. I liked the library very much too. The staff were friendly and helpful, as were the staff in the main offices, and I made friends with people of different nationalities.

I have specific memories of the group project with which I was involved during the Introduction to Educational Inquiry Unit. The project explored the reading skills that non-native English-speaking PhD students have adopted to succeed in Master of Education programmes at the Graduate School of Education. I was granted the opportunity to work with classmates from other countries and received guidance and help from the course tutor and assistant. There were a lot of debates, arguments and discussions from choosing the topic, planning the project and conducting the research to analyzing and presenting the results. Although the process did not always go smoothly, it was rewarding and made the dissertation research and writing much easier for me.

Before submitting my dissertation I spent two months travelling alone across Europe and made friends from different parts of the continent. I travelled to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The art, architecture, natural views, historic places and museums, as well as the people, were all impressive.

I returned to my home country after submitting my dissertation and received a job offer in the following week. I have been working as a Principal since then, running an international high school in Guangdong Province, China. I am responsible for the routine management of the school, focusing on teaching quality and teacher development, student performance and satisfaction, student service and new student enrolment. I finished the probation one month earlier than required and was appointed to manage a bigger school in another city six months later by the headquarters of my company. I am very grateful that the learning and experience at the Graduate School of Education has made me more capable of helping my students.

Studying at Bristol has built up my confidence, deepened my understanding and improved my skills in the field of school management and leadership. It has enabled me to think critically and strategically, improved my academic essay writing skills and taught me about the English schooling system and western culture.

In the future, I want to apply what I have learned to practice and undertake a PhD. If I could give advice to others it would be: work hard, play hard – there is so much to learn, see and experience, but time is so limited. And never underestimate your power to change yourself.