School of Education

Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) Student profile

This is a reflective account from Dr Jill Berry, Professional Doctorate in Education alumna. She describes why she chose to study at the University of Nottingham, her experience of the course and how it has helped develop her career.


Dr Jill Berry, EdD studentJill Berry

Study mode: Part-time
Year of graduation: 2016
Home country: UK



Why did you choose to study at the University of Nottingham?

I had just stepped down from headship and decided that one of the things I wanted to do in the ‘post-career’ phase of my life was further study. I had completed a masters degree 15 years into my career, and this was 15 years later. I looked at the PhD and EdD programmes and chose the latter, and I investigated three local universities (I live in Newark and wanted to study close to home) and chose the University of Nottingham. I have absolutely no regrets about either choice. 

How has the course helped you in your career?

I had a very satisfying 30-year career in schools and was a head teacher for the last ten years and I wanted to do something different. Completing the EdD led to a number of opportunities – writing about my research journey and contributing to events such as BELMAS and #ResearchEd where I talked about research and/or leadership. I also wrote a book based on my research, ‘Making the Leap – Moving from Deputy to Head’ (Crown House, 2016), which has opened up many other doors for me.   

Was there a particular aspect of the course that you enjoyed the most?

I particularly enjoyed being part of a cohort and learning with and from other course members. All of them were involved in education, and committed to learning more, but their areas of expertise weren’t necessarily in school leadership, which helped me to broaden my horizons. It was humbling to learn from others studying alongside me, and to have the opportunity to support each other, too. 
I also really appreciated the support and encouragement of the course tutors, and especially my thesis supervisors Andy Noyes and Andy Townsend. They were brilliant.  

What was the best part of the course?

Although completing the research, and crafting my thesis, was challenging I enjoyed this part of the post-graduate process, especially pulling everything together in the final weeks and months. 

What do you want to do now you have completed your degree? What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to continue to speak and write about educational leadership, bolstered by my further study and everything I learnt on my doctoral journey. I currently work as a leadership development consultant, and my doctorate gives me additional credibility in this field. I will continue to do this while I find it fulfilling and enjoyable.  

Were you in employment while you were studying? How did you manage to balance both?

I worked as a self-employed consultant throughout my doctoral studies, and I also worked as an Associate for the National College of Teaching and Leadership for several years.  
By the end of my first year of the EdD I had chosen the transition from deputy headship to headship as my research focus. At the National College, and in my consultancy capacity, I was working with aspiring and serving leaders at all levels, supporting them in their current roles and helping them to progress their career, as appropriate. There was a satisfying synergy between my doctoral studies and my paid employment. I often found that the reading I was doing generated insights and materials I could use in my work, and working with leaders in schools, especially those who were preparing to step up to headship in due course, fed into my research. Juggling study and work was a satisfying and productive challenge, rather than a chore.  

Why do you think students should come to the University of Nottingham to study this course?

It is a well-designed, challenging, stimulating and rewarding course, with excellent teaching input and support from the University staff. I also enjoyed working with a cohort, rather than the potentially more isolating PhD journey. I developed a wide range of research and study skills over the course of the five years during which I completed the qualification part-time. 

Is there anything else you would like to add about the course or your time at the University of Nottingham?

I would strongly recommend it, especially if you’re a (very) mature student like me, who is looking for something satisfying and productive to involve yourself in during life after full-time employment. 



School of Education

University of Nottingham
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