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May 2021

Engaging with organisations working in the field of global education and international development

As part of their MA Global Education and International Development, students from the Department of Education Studies are given the option of completing a professional placement module. This involves them spending time across the Spring term working with an organisation and contributing to this field of work in a practical way. In recent years the department have partnered with a wide range of institution-based, local, national and international organisations, including the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), the United Nations Association – Coventry Branch, and the Global Schools Forum.

The module encourages students to engage with individuals beyond their academic course, and to experience working within a professional environment. Through the placements, students are able to apply their learning from the earlier part of their course while also developing further knowledge and skills. The students make valuable contributions to their placement organisations, completing a range of projects to support their ongoing work.

Current students Helen, Hamis, Ka Ying, Minjeong and Tamara, have all shared their exciting experiences below.

Helen Chidler's placement at National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen)

Picture of HamisHamis Utikae's placement experience at nasen

I did my placement at the National Association for Special Education Needs (NASEN). Nasen is a charitable membership organisation that supports all education practitioners by providing training, relevant continuing professional development and learning (CPDL), resources, advice, information and much more to enable staff to meet the needs of all pupils with learning differences. Nasen work is both locally (UK) and around the globe. They are based in Tamworth in the West Midlands, UK.   

I was working in the Department for International Development within nasen, which was only created recently. My fellow intern and I were the first people to actually start working in the department with the new head of the department, who was our lead supervisor during the placement. My main objective was to be part of a team to create content and resources to support nasen's international development goals. 

Roles and activities during my placement included:

  • Analysing international inclusion policy using UNESCO's global education monitoring report (GEM Report)
  • Writing bespoke policy briefs/ papers on SEND for Gulf countries and other Middle East countries (Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE)
  • Reviewing international schools' inclusion policy using International Schools Market ISC Report 
  • Analysing Nasen in-house auditing tool using some of the previously bespoke policy papers 

The placement was like a bridge to link my knowledge, skills, and academic ability with the real world of employment. It allowed me to test myself on using everything I have learned in classrooms in practical ways. Moreover, in terms of tasks, I was impressed with how the Lead Supervisor organised and set up different tasks. I enjoyed learning about SEND and educational inclusion in different countries, which enhanced my knowledge and research skills. I also learned to analyse and practised policy papers/briefs writing, which are new skills I have gained in this placement. Other skills I have improved are presentation skills, confidence, doing things within deadlines, and teamwork. Despite the challenges of working from home (virtually) and missing the experience of face-to-face with people in the organisation, as well as the hustle and bustle of the office activities, overall, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to do my placement at Nasen and gain vital experiences and skills. 

Hearing from my Lead Supervisor that all the countries' policy papers I prepared are essential and would be used by Nasen international department in the future as the starting point on advising and working with those countries on improving their SEN provision was an immense satisfaction.    

The placement has encouraged me to think even more profoundly about the importance of education to all regardless of who we are and circumstances we might experience in our lives. After 10 weeks working with the organisation supporting practitioners who work with children who have special educational needs (SEN), it was a turning point for me in terms of what I would like to do in the future academically or concerning my career path. After been exposed to learn more about SEN and the issue of inclusion in education, the initial impact was that I changed my dissertation topic to focus on special educational needs and disability issue. Moreover, I would like to do my PhD based on a particular subject within special educational needs and disability (SEND). Finally, the biggest lesson I have learned and to take away from this placement is that education is a weapon that can be used in different societies across the globe to transform peoples' lives. We can all prosper as a human race despite our abilities and disabilities by embracing education.  

Picture of Ka ying wongKa Ying Wong's time with Warwick's International Employability Team

During my 10-week placement experience in the Warwick’s International Employability Team, I undertook a research to explore the motivations for international students to pursue a full-time Taught Master’s (PGT) degree in the UK and their employability expectations. Two more nuanced foci are on international postgraduates of nationalities less populous on campus and with prior full-time experience. Such research aims are primarily derived from my own identity and experience as a full-time international student from Hong Kong with over 5 years of full-time work experience. As acknowledged by my placement supervisor, career services catering to PGT have remained largely an untapped area, not least because of the short time span in one-year Master’s study. Present literature, government plans and university operations largely orient around undergraduate students/ fresh graduates, rather than Taught Postgraduates armed with some years of full-time work experiences. The research also echoes some very recent UK Government’s initiatives, such as International Education Strategy 2021 and the Turing Scheme (DfE, DIT, 2021). 

So, I embarked on the research with an online survey, followed by interviews with students and career personnel, as well as participation in the Q&A sessions of employer events. I am so delighted that the response rates were much higher than expected- 92 survey respondents of 37 nationalities, of whom 46 agreed to be interviewed. The respondents were by invitations extended firstly to fellow Education Studies Taught Postgraduate students, then to flatmates, then to unacquainted Warwick students in the Global Connections Community on Microsoft Teams. 

All in all, the placement experience, especially the interviews with fellow international PGTs of a wide range of nationalities, have been academically, professionally and most of all, personally rewarding. It is certainly satisfying to have identified and attempted to address a wide yet growingly relevant research and policy gap; but it is listening to personal stories of fellow PGTs who are also from so-called ‘lesser-known’ or less populous nations that infuse meanings to this project. The similar trajectories and decision-making in relation to undertaking an overseas Master’s programme in the middle of their careers have struck a chord with me. Many interviewees in turn confessed their surprise at and expressed their gratitude for my interest in their voices and choices. In this sense, it is a mutually rewarding research indeed.  

Tamara Philip shares her experience from her placement at Global Schools Forum

Picture of MinjeongWhat Minjeong Goh learned at The United Nations Association Coventry Branch

The United Nations Association Coventry Branch (UNA-Coventry) is affiliated to the United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK) and promotes the aims of the United Nations among the people of Coventry and Warwickshire. The UNA-Coventry runs the International School Twinning Project (ISTP) in conjunction with Coventry Peace Award. The underlying aims of the project are to promote peace and understanding between communities and to raise awareness and knowledge of different beliefs and cultures through school twinning. The ISTP was at an early stage in development. Therefore, all possibilities were considered regardless of its initiative and aims. In order to assess the needs of schools and identify how to support schools, it was needed to find out what experiences and thoughts teachers have. Given the timescale and scope of the placement, an online survey was the most appropriate method as online surveys have the advantages of quick responses and easy analysis. Thus, I contributed to the preliminary research on existing school partnerships, the online survey design/piloting/distribution, and the analysis of the Korean responses. 

The survey offered some insights regarding the potential problems when linking schools across the world. I examined the factors that would influence the success of school linking, identified practical solutions drawing on past and current school partnerships programmes, and provided recommendations on how UNA-Coventry and Coventry Peace Award could support schools. The secretary of UNA-Coventry mentioned that he would like to publish my report because it would provide a substantial basis for future work. 

It was a great opportunity for me to gain experience in a British workplace and broaden my knowledge of globalisation and international development in a real-life setting. Moreover, it deepened my understanding of data collection methods, particularly online survey. Lastly, the placement enabled me to improve my competencies, such as working in a team, problem-solving and analytical skills. What I gained from the placement is not only beneficial for my dissertation but also a solid foundation for my future career. 

Over the past few years we've been delighted to work with a range of organisations, including:

  • Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • Baobab Women’s Project
  • Global Schools Forum
  • Humanitarian Academy for Development/Islamic Relief
  • Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, Pakistan
  • Into University
  • Laksh Programme
  • National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen)
  • Pratham UK
  • Education Saves Lives
  • United Nations Association – Coventry Branch
  • University of Warwick Student Opportunity (Study Abroad and International Employability)
  • University of Warwick International Foundation Programme
  • University of Warwick Press Office

If you’d like to find out more about the placement module, please feel free to get in touch with Dr Becky Morris