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Student Profiles

Ruth Hale MEd

Ruth Hale

Supervisor:  Vivien Rosier

Qualification gained


What were your reasons for deciding to do the course?

I really enjoyed the SENCO courses that Essex offered. The final year of that culminated in an Action Research project which benefitted the schools I worked in and increased my confidence in myself as a SENCO. At this level we were affiliated to Cambridge University. A friend and I were given the opportunity to complete a Masters (in Inclusive and Special Education) In one year due to the previous Local Authority courses.

Why did you choose to do it at Cambridge?

We had already been linked with the University and been impressed by the tutors and resources available at the Faculty of Education. Geographically we were only an hour away and the course really appealed.

What have you gained from the course?

The course gave me so much in the way of stimulus. It was wonderful to meet people from across the world and working in such different environments. The discussions were really interesting, the lectures excellent and the whole environment a real change and challenge. The personal tutorials really made me re-evaluate my own practice and perceptions. Completing a thesis in a year was a huge challenge but one that ultimately benefitted the children and adults that I work with and created opportunities to have really meaningful discussions with staff and parents.

What have you gone on to do having finished the course?

I really enjoy the work that I do, as part-time SENCO in two small Primary schools and did not envisage the course as a stepping stone to another job. After the course I have continued in those schools and more recently have become SENCO at a third school- each one day a week. The confidence that the course and the previous LA courses has given me enables me to approach the many challenges of the role in a positive way. I also give advice to other new local SENCOs and am happy to share expertise with them.

If you are a mature student, did you find it difficult returning to studying later in your career?

It had been almost 30 years since my first degree but the LA training had helped me regain motivation to study. Coming on the course with a friend was very helpful in enabling us to discuss issues and give reassurance when panic set in! My individual tutor was very helpful too in ‘chunking’ the thesis into manageable tasks.

If you are a part time student and working, how did you manage studying while also working full time? How demanding was the course?

I only work part-time so this was not such an issue. The course was demanding in terms of reading and completing the assignments but I knew it would be. I chose the subject of my thesis in line with a current issue in the schools I was working in and there was never a time when I resented the time spent on it.

If you are a practising teacher, has your experience helped you to make improvements in school? What impact has it had on the way you work?

My thesis was based on transition to Primary school for children with statements of SEN. My discussions with parents, staff and other professionals have certainly impacted on the process for all children coming into the schools I work in. The whole experience of doing an M.Ed has enabled me to examine the current issues around Inclusive and Special educational needs in a more thoughtful way and has impacted on the way I work, particularly in terms of exploring what Inclusion really means in a whole main stream school context.

Is there anything further you would like to say to someone thinking of studying here?

This was an amazing year- almost dreamlike to be back in a University environment after all those years. The whole experience is one to be seized if you possibly can.