The MA in Professional Education was launched in 2015, providing the opportunity for PGCE Primary and Secondary students from the Centre for Teacher Education (CTE) with the opportunity of continuing their studies with us to gain a full Warwick MA. Students first complete an online Foundational Research Methods module with the Centre for Educational Studies (CES) before forming their research proposal with staff at CTE, and seeking ethical approval for their work.
Warwick PGCE graduates go on to teach world-wide and so the MA has supported online learning and tailored one-to-one tutorial support delivered remotely, as well as a number of face-to-face sessions at CTE for those who live locally. Our flexible provision enables those at the ‘chalkface’ to engage in ‘close-to-practice’ research, investigating the everyday issues that really matter to teachers and their pupils in ways that facilitate rather than hinder their work in school. The research that we celebrated at our first graduation ceremony reflected the very real challenges being faced by teachers and school leaders currently.
Our focus on the classroom is attractive to others outside our PGCE courses, and has meant that, since the initial validation of the MA, it has expanded to include teachers in school networks in Derby and London. Thirty three Primary and Secondary teachers from across the UK and overseas completed their dissertations last summer, researching a wide range of topics, including school improvement, teacher retention, student wellbeing, effective use of VLE’s (Virtual Learning Environments), exam reform and subject specific studies in Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Science and Drama. Notable amongst the dissertations submitted were Guy Blacklock’s study documenting the journey of two looked after children through the education and care system, and Pete Nealon’s study on the experiences of senior teachers in schools going through a process of forced academisation.
The graduation ceremony may mark an end to the MA experience, but it also marks a beginning, as students begin to explore the opportunities that MA study opens up. Graduates have already made career decisions based on their research, achieving promotions or moving into new areas of work entirely, proving that an MA really is a springboard to new and better things.
Although the ceremony was a way to say goodbye, CTE continues to support our graduates in disseminating the amazing work they have done to colleagues, peers and the wider education community. We have offered ‘writing for publication’ workshops and look forward to seeing their work in print in due course. Individuals have returned to present their findings to our current PGCE students and to our next cohort of MA students who are already waiting in the wings, just embarking on their own research in school.
We were pleased that so many of our graduating students were able to enjoy time away from the classroom to celebrate their achievements together with us, but we were also thinking of those spread far and wide who were unable to attend. As the MA grows and expands, extending the invitation to join us in exploring what matters in the classroom, we will experience many more graduation days, but the ceremony on Thursday January 17th will be special, celebrating, as it did, the achievements of our first group of teachers through. Well done everyone! We are really proud of you!