Jess Wythe

Professional Doctorate in Education EdD

When Jess started her undergraduate studies as an Education student at BCU, she didn’t have the confidence to believe she was good enough to study at postgraduate level. Now, her doctoral research is making positive changes to Special Educational Needs policy and practice and her confidence in her work and ability grows every day.

"I decided to apply for a postgraduate course before I completed my Education Studies degree as I felt that my academic journey wasn't over yet. I had such a positive experience as a BCU student when I was an undergraduate student on the BA (Hons) Education Studies degree programme. It was such a great degree and I left with such a broad scope of knowledge of education nationally and internationally, current debates in education, educational theory and philosophy, and more!

I really engaged with a module called Inclusion, Diversity and Special Educational Needs in my second year and upon graduating, I went on to study for a Master's Degree in Special Educational Needs (SEND) to learn about SEND in more depth. My initial idea was to do a PGCE after my Master's degree, but during my Master's studies, I realised that I wanted to make a difference within SEND policy and practice. I applied for the Professional Doctorate in Education, but I had little confidence in my application. I thought I was young and inexperienced compared to others on the course, but I was offered a place!

Being a postgraduate student has been challenging so far, but I was certainly expecting the challenge. One of the most significant differences is the decrease in classroom contact and the increase in independent study. With undergraduate study, I felt comfortable and completely supported all the time but with postgraduate study, you have to actively reach out and ask for support if and when you need it. I was definitely expecting the expectation to be more independent, but it still came as a real shock to the system, but I adjusted quickly with the help of the lecturers and my fellow course mates.

I think the hardest thing for me to overcome has been my self-confidence. As a postgraduate student, you meet a lot of incredible and inspiring people and have a real scope of life and work experiences and as the youngest in the group, I did feel inadequate sometimes. It took a while, but I am starting to come out of my shell and have the confidence to share my thoughts and experiences with the group during sessions, rather than just hiding at the back of the classroom. Everybody is so supportive: the lecturers and my fellow course mates. The teaching staff at BCU are so encouraging and engaging and I certainly feel confident that I am in good hands regarding my doctoral research journey.

Thanks to them, I have become so much more confident in my own abilities and I am now not afraid to take risks and go out of my comfort zone. You only live once, so take every opportunity that is given to you and really make the most of your university experience. I have learned so much already about the course and about myself.

I hope to stay at BCU after completing my studies and continue doing SEND-based research and make a difference to SEND policy and practice.

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ means I am part of the BCU community and family and I really feel a sense of pride when I share my experiences of studying here. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I have experienced, and the support received whilst being part of BCU."