The full title of my second degree, studied part-time with the Open University and completed in 1996, is a qualification called Master of Arts in Education (Management).
I conducted action-research on channels of communication with schools and, in particular, the different approaches to managing in-coming information. My options taken for the assignments and examination included emphasis on adult learning with issues such as participation and learning styles. It also included school management aspects as budgets and leadership. Many of the conceptual frameworks studied have been related to my work-based experience.
As it was part-time, and while I was working, it took four years to complete. It was very well-structured which made it easier to keep organised and to meet deadlines. I made the effort to read widely, attend tutorials and I was able to steer the assignments to my interestes and experience.
Where I was in terms of the career path is effectively illustrated by a cartoon from the study materials. It is dated 1988 and illustrates the tensions between schools and the local education authority. In thirty years the players have moved around a bit but what hasn’t changed is the suspicion of external advice and support. I am well out of it no,w but I wouldn’t mind betting in multi-academy trusts you will still find a similar difference in perspectives.
In October 2020 I threw out the big box from the lost which contained the study materials and assignments from twenty-five years ago. I was amused to find a letter I had retained from Roy Pryke, the Director of Education Services at Kent County Council to all staff dated June 1995:
Here we go again! As I am sure you have gathered, we are into another period of change. This time it is not a result of ideas emerging from within the County Council but is an unavoidable effect of legislation for local management of schools and compulsory competitive tendering, both of which we are handling through the devolution project.
Needless to say, the writing was on the wall and I, along with many education service colleagues, moved along.