Michelle Mackay, MSc Inclusive Education 2019
'The experience of engaging with the MSc Inclusive Education has been a life-changing one, both personally and professionally. Studying at Moray House has provided me with a range of opportunities which have encouraged me to critically reflect on my teaching practice, engage with other teaching professionals and develop my academic writing skills.'
Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?
After working as a Primary Teacher in Abu Dhabi for four years, I decided it was time to move a bit closer to home. As I’m originally from the Scottish Borders, the University of Edinburgh was the perfect location to enjoy city life and also be close to family whilst I studied. In the knowledge that Moray House School of Education and Sport is one of the UK’s most attractive destinations for Postgraduate study, choosing to study at the University of Edinburgh was not a difficult decision to make.
Why did you choose to study this degree?
I am passionate about safeguarding the inclusion of all children who are vulnerable to exclusion and other forms of marginalisation. I chose to study the MSc Inclusive Education full-time for 1 year as the programme responds to the increasing cultural, linguistic and developmental diversity of school communities in an increasingly globalised education system. Although the programme is flexible and can be completed over a number of years, I chose to take one year out of teaching to focus on my studies full time. Although the full-time course was demanding and required me to manage my time effectively, it also gave me the flexibility to work on relatively self-made hours (except when I had face-to-face tutorials). As a result, I was able to work on the Supply Register and teach locally when I had time.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
Studying at Moray House has provided me with a range of professional opportunities to deepen my understanding of inclusion and support my teaching practice. Being afforded the opportunity to participate in courses delivered by Professor Lani Florian, Dr Natasa Pantić, Dr Holly Linklater, Dr Andrea English, Dr Andy Hancock and Laura Mitchell has challenged my thinking and extended my academic understanding of inclusive education. As the number of students on each course I enrolled on was relatively small, I enjoyed building professional relationships with course organisers. I also enjoyed attending additional seminars hosted by Professor Sheila Riddell, Professor Mel Ainscow, Professor Roger Slee and Elizabeth Walton. The professional opportunities available through this programme are truly unique.
What specific skills did you develop?
The experience of engaging with the MSc Inclusive Education has been a life-changing one, both personally and professionally. Studying at Moray House has provided me with a range of opportunities which have encouraged me to critically reflect on my teaching practice, engage with other teaching professionals and develop my academic writing skills. Through research and engaging with theory on a deeper level, I have enjoyed making links between theory, policy and practice; however, have also been professionally challenged by the gap between academic literature, Scottish Government policy and day-to-day practice in Scottish schools. This has largely guided my research as I have been interested in the lived experiences of teachers in Scottish education, which I explored in numerous essays and also my dissertation. In addition, I was given the opportunity to be a programme representative for the MSc Inclusive Education. This experience involved me completing additional online training which provided insight into the systems and procedures at the University of Edinburgh. This training is recognised through HEAR on my transcript. Having the opportunity to represent my peers on this course helped me to build relationships with peers and staff.
What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?
The MSc Inclusive Education courses were delivered through workshops and tutorials. The only lectures involved in this course are with the larger cohort of MSc Education students for Research Methods 1 & 2. Sessions for the MSc Inclusive Education were interactive and course organisers valued students’ opinions and encouraged discussion in group and whole class contexts. Course organisers always created a safe space for students to have the confidence to share their opinion. As a result, I learned to have the confidence to share my opinion with others in the knowledge that I would be listened to and respected.
Why would you recommend the programme to others?
I would absolutely recommend this programme to educators who wish to make a difference in the lives of children and young people in education. The MSc Inclusive Education presents a re-imagined future for learners and teachers, where responding to human diversity is recognised as the point of education. Anyone interested in understanding social justice, equality, diversity, inclusion, human rights and teachers as agents of change should consider enrolling on the MSc Inclusive Education.
In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?
The MSc Inclusive Education is accredited with the GTCS which means I gained GTCS professional recognition for the professional learning I completed on the course. This recognition has helped me document the record of work I have made to gain the MSc Inclusive Education. Already this has proven useful when engaging with the GTCS Professional Update process.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?
The advice I would give to someone considering studying the MSc Inclusive Education would be to take all the opportunities you can: attend the additional seminars, attend the social events with course organisers and enjoy your experience at the University of Edinburgh.