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PhD Philosophy of Education student at Leeds Trinity

My route into teaching

Growing up I loved school and have very fond memories from my time at Wirral Grammar School. I was fortunate to have excellent teachers and at the age of sixteen I was really enthusiastic about becoming one myself, but my teachers told me it was a difficult profession and I should try something else.

After studying English at university, I actually went on to forge a career in the restaurant trade. However, at 24 I was at a crossroads, weighing up whether to pursue this path or return to education. To help me decide, I sought out voluntary experience at Tadcaster Primary School. Being told that I had the potential to be really good was a huge confidence boost. I was successful in my application for a PGCE at another institution and my first teaching position came at Seacroft Grange Primary School in Leeds. I worked there from 2006 to 2014, becoming a Leading Teacher for Education Leeds and progressing from Classroom Teacher to Assertive Mentoring Policy Leader for the Senior Leadership Team. 

Naziya O'Reilly.

Why I chose to study at Leeds Trinity

I found a Leeds Trinity University leaflet, advertising the MA in Education, in the staff room at work one day.  At that point I had started thinking about my professional development and did I want to continue as leading teacher, start my leadership training, or was there a different path I could take? I came to the Open Day and liked the sound of the modules, particularly the ones on coaching and mentoring and behaviour management. I found that I could tailor the MA to my classroom needs and interests. I found that Leeds Trinity's MA best represented how I could become an outstanding educator and that was by dedicating my professional and personal time to academic research.

The personalisation offered by Leeds Trinity was different to others available since it meant I could focus my research on areas of teaching and learning specific to my situation. It was an easy choice for me and definitely the right one. Essentially the MA in Education was a route to become the teacher I really wanted to be.

Leeds Trinity student highlights

I really enjoyed graduation in 2014. It was a special day as I had just found out I'd been awarded the PhD studentship, so I was moving from one milestone to the next. I also have to remark on how friendly and approachable the academic staff are. They understand that teachers are busy people, and as such, are willing to schedule tutorials and seminars that are convenient for us. I've had to spend a long time in the library and the staff are always ready to help you find the right book or journal article.  If I had to summarise my experience it would be life-changing, supportive and inspiring. 

A highlight of my time here has been the chance to meet other teachers at various stages in their careers, sharing experiences, best practice and working together on group presentations. I've appreciated the chance to become part of a great community and getting to know the academic interests of the lecturers in education. They've been invaluable in my ability to utilise the expert knowledge I've received here. MA Education students also have the opportunity to present their research at Leeds Trinity staff research days.

I studied the MA in order to become a better teacher and I chose to do a PhD because that goal never really finishes. I'm grateful that Leeds Trinity gave me a place to explore how I can make a lasting difference in education

My advice to others

My first advice would be to think about doing the MA, even if not straight away. The skills and educational experience you will learn and take away from this course will enable you to become a better you not just a better teacher