In comparison to other MA degrees in education the MA in School Improvement and Leadership did not focus solely on leadership, but more the process of improving schools and school performance which was my particular area of interest as a curriculum specialist. I knew this was my area of interest but I didn’t want to pursue further studies in the subject I taught.
What is your current role?
Assistant Head (Academic) at The Kingsley School, Leamington Spa
What advice would you give to potential students looking to study this programme?
Don’t be put off by the time you will be devoting to your studies. It can be fitted in around your work and family. I was working full time and had two children still at school. Much of your study focus will be on your school and its practices so it helps you gain an insight into how your school operates and could operate even better.
What are the key benefits of studying the School Improvement and Educational Leadership?
I felt it really opened my eyes to a number of things. First, that I was a lot more capable than I first believed! Second, I gained great insight into the wider implications of schools operational and strategic decision making. It gave me the motivation to aim for senior leadership roles knowing that I had the academic rigor behind me to have a questioning and reflective approach to my work, decision making and career progress.
What was the highlight of your time on the programme?
Developing myself academically – it was incredibly rewarding to be able to make links between theory and my current school practices, and to be able to suggest changes and improvements based on evidence. Meeting the tutors, with their wide range of backgrounds was fascinating and though challenging, it was a real thrill to have my thinking developed and refined over time.
Describe how this programme has helped you in your workplace?
Already, some changes have been made in terms of target setting and CPD in the school based on research projects I undertook as part of the programme. It gave me more kudos to suggest and implement change and has seen a transformation in the way I am perceived by colleagues, students and parents.
What support did you receive from academics or other staff at the University of Birmingham during your study?
As I was part time and some distance away, most support was through email – tutors responded to queries about assignments with helpful suggestions as well as comments that challenged me to develop my ideas and arguments further. It was useful to have input from a wide range of experts in their respective fields during tutorials so that any area of interest within the field of school improvement could be pursued for the final Masters dissertation.
How has this programme enhanced your career prospects?
It has enhanced my career prospects greatly – I went from a head of department before the course, to being seconded to SLT during the final year and then securing an assistant headship in the final year. It has made me aim for senior leadership knowing that I could do the job and having the opportunity within my school to put into practice some whole school strategies to support my applications for senior leadership later on.