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Student Profiles

Michael Fordham

profile student higher degrees masters phd mphil med

Research MEd

What were your reasons for deciding to do the course?
Having completed the Cambridge PGCE in 2006, where I enjoyed the research challenges posed by the "1c" assignment and the evaluative nature of the entire course, I decided that the MEd would allow me to continue my research while at the same time establishing my career in the classroom.

What have you gained from the course?
An ability to theorise, analyse and evaluate are key components of the MEd, and I now feel much more secure applying these critical frameworks to both my professional practice and academic research. In particular, the History Elective – completed in Lent Term – gave me the chance to discuss history teaching issues with teachers from other schools, and had the added bonus of some up-to-date research on Oliver Cromwell and the world of early Islam. Working on my MEd thesis found me constructing a scheme of work for a Year 8 mixed-ability history class looking at the nature of revolutions. My class rose to the challenge of this course, and I have no doubt that my teaching improved as part of this process.

What do you hope to go on and do when you finish the course?
I taught full-time at Hinchingbrooke School in Cambridgeshire as a Newly Qualified Teacher throughout the MEd, and I shall be continuing there with my course complete. From next year I shall be mentoring PGCE students on the Secondary History course, and I am in the process of applying for a part-time PhD. All in all, the MEd has opened a number of doors through which I am now beginning to step.

How did you balance teaching and studying?
Being a full-time classroom teacher is a demanding job, with few hours spare to think about reading and writing a thesis! For me, the key to balancing my full-time employment and part-time course was getting the two to support each other. My work at the Faculty has informed my teaching, improved my planning and led to two exciting schemes of work for Years 7 and 8. Similarly, the ideas I encountered through teaching were the foundation of my thesis research questions, and the research project very much grew out of my own professional practice.

Has your experience helped you to make improvements in school?
My school has had a number of benefits from the MEd. The ideas I've received, developed and shared – particularly on the History Elective – have given me a number of ideas which I've been able to share in my department back in school. As a teacher, I have come back from Faculty sessions enthused with new ideas, and this has had a clear impact on my teaching. The new schemes of work developed as part of the History Elective and my own thesis have added extra flavour to our Year 7 and 8 Schemes of Work, and it's great to see the students responding to these positively. Finally, the importance of meeting other teachers from other schools cannot be overstated, and I owe many of the positives I've taken back to school from conversations and collaborations with the range of people I've met.

Is there anything further you would like to say to someone thinking of studying here?
The part-time MEd is challenging but it is also rigorous, intellectually stimulating and it adds a new dimension to your teaching in school. The course is structured enough in the early days to ensure you don't feel lost, yet sufficiently flexible later on to allow you to follow your own interests