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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