Matthew Abbott is a student on the MSc in Learning and Teaching programme.  He has previously studied English Language and Literature, with French at Durham University and completed his PGCE at the University of Oxford. He is also currently a headteacher in a state Secondary School.

What degree did you apply for and why was it important to you to study this?

I applied to study the MSc in Learning and Teaching because I wanted to reflect on my current practice and benefit our school community. I have a particular interest in how teachers in Secondary School can use understanding of adolescent development to create a more appropriate environmental fit.  By doing a formal qualification, I knew that I would be able to deepen my knowledge of this area and pursue some interesting, yet practical action research.

What do you hope to go on to do once you’ve completed your postgraduate degree? What do you hope to achieve? 

I hope to use my learning to enhance our students’ school experience, to think more deeply about how our school provides a facilitating environment in tune with adolescent needs and share my learning with colleagues.  Continuing my own learning has encouraged other teachers to consider pursuing additional study and enables me to speak with authenticity about the value and benefit of continued professional study.

What do you most value about the teaching at the department? 

I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with a range of educational professionals in the well-designed and stimulating seminars and tutorials.  It is a privilege to be able to benefit from the expertise and world class educational knowledge in the department.  The one-to-one sessions exemplify the tutors’ commitment to their students and are both motivational and challenging.

Why do you think it’s important to study education? 

The world is awash with different prejudices and beliefs relating to educational practice.  By undertaking a postgraduate qualification I have been able to reflect on my experiences through the discipline of applying theoretical frameworks; I have enjoyed having my mind opened to other perspectives as well as developing ways to evaluate claims; ultimately, I think that studying education enables teachers to improve their practice.

What’s the community (student & staff) like at the department?

Engaged and engaging.

What’s been your favourite thing about the course to date?

Undertaking the course has definitely been invigorating and energising.  The sheer amount of material that we have covered, the insights that we have gained and the satisfaction that comes from carrying out and completing research is unquestionable.

What advice would you give to new students on how they can get involved in the department community?

You get out what you put in.  Although time is a precious commodity in the world of education and often in short supply, if you are able to commit to the activities and student communities, there is no doubt that you will get most out of the experiences.

Did the College add anything to the quality of your student experience, and if so how?

It was good to re-connect with Hertford College where I did my PGCE many years ago.