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‘Studying with the OU helped me to realise my potential’

Pauline registered with The Open University in its early days of inception. As a pioneer student, she has achieved a BA Hons Degree, an MSc and a Doctorate. Her career in Education has taken her across the world to Uganda – Pauline talks us through her journey.

Although I spent my secondary education at a grammar school, I just didn’t do well in my exams. I managed to get into teaching training college, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first child that I discovered the OU. It was a great opportunity to carry on learning and keep my hand in my career. The Open Degree allowed me to choose a selection of courses, from Psychology to Education – building on my strengths. It was the right thing at the right time.

As my life carried on and my family grew, so did my studies. I had a better idea of the path that I wanted to take, hoping that somewhere in the future I’d like to gain a Doctorate. In order to do this I needed a firm grounding in research methods, which is exactly what the MSc gave me. At this point, I had become a Local Authority Education Inspector, with responsibility for a group of schools and leading on curriculum evaluation and assessment. This allowed me to apply my learning in the workplace and taught me how to refine my thinking in a range of ways.

Once I’d completed my MSc, I registered at Brunel University to study my Doctorate, but realised that a campus university wasn’t for me for a number of reasons. I re-registered with the OU and began my Doctorate in May 2012, which coincided with my UNICEF/VSO placement in Uganda to be an International Teacher Educator. I consequently structured my learning to suit this change in my career, focusing on mentoring as a staff development strategy for Primary Teacher Educators (College Tutors). Even though I was abroad, I continued to receive great teaching and supervision, as I had done throughout all of my OU studies.

It was an exciting time, as at a later stage in my life, I found myself doing the two things that I had always wanted to do – gaining a Doctorate and working abroad.

I submitted my Doctoral thesis in February 2016, only four short years after starting. The OU and the path that I was able to take has given me the capacity and the evidence to say ‘no I am not worthless’. It’s helped to build my depth of understanding about the world and to approach tasks with a critical and academic mind. Of course, there were times when I felt like giving up, but my Tutors (especially my Doctoral Supervisors, Maggie and Alison) always gave me the encouragement that I could do it, I could get to the end and with a decent outcome.

I now work within a MHCLG-funded programme in Milton Keynes Council leading on the research strand.  I hope to develop what I have learned and experienced in and after Uganda into a book. My Doctorate hasn’t been a trophy – it’s a real and working education, that continues to shape my life.

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About studying Education at The Open University

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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