Nick Pascalides, MAED
Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am a cellist with an undergraduate degree in music from London and a PGCE in Primary Education from Canterbury. My classroom experience has led me to teach in the state, independent and international sectors; currently, this is my 20th year in the profession.
What prompted you to pursue an online programme with University of Exeter? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?
Even though I have worked in a variety of settings, I was beginning to feel stale in the classroom and wanted to fall in love with teaching again. I have always believed teaching to be an excellent and rewarding vocation and I wanted to be challenged out of my comfort zone. Initially I began to look at Master courses in Music but realised Education would be more relevant in my day to day job. There were several online options of interest, but for me, Exeter was the most suitable because of the time frame of two years, the depth and interest of the modules, the communication and advice I received from the staff during my inquiry stages, the flexibility of being 100% online. Due to its online nature, the course can be completed entirely in your home, meaning no time is spent travelling to and from a residential stay. This means that the time you invest into this degree is entirely devoted to its completion. In addition, Exeter’s reputation as a leading university was also a major factor in an extremely competitive field.
What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?
My experiences have been very positive. The modules are organised into weekly learning themes with clear expectations and activities. There is a tick box element that allows you to monitor the activities you have completed and plan for others.
If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?
The biggest piece of advice is to go for, it is very easy to talk yourself out of studying as you feel it is not the right time (there never is). The amount of time you spend dithering could be spent working through your first module. It is easy to find excuses but think ahead, you can do it and will have a Masters from a very reputable university and your teaching will feel like it has received an energy boost. Working fulltime as a teacher is exhausting, having a family and balancing life is also challenging but it can be done providing you are strict with yourself. Talk to your school to ascertain if any support is available, you may be surprised to learn that even in times of budget cuts there is often a separate PD fund to help towards the fees. You may also be able to negotiate some extra curriculum time to help with your studies. It is important to remember it is in the school’s interest to have well-qualified staff and your determination to study at Masters level will demonstrate diligence and determination. Since the course is online, it is online brings benefits of flexibility and being able to complete the work when you have the time. You can also plan to ensure that you are free to complete the work when essays are due.
Would you recommend the Exeter programme and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?
I would recommend the Exeter programme as it allows for you to be in control of your professional development and learning. The course is rigorous and will motivate you and give confidence in your practice and abilities. It will probably be very different to your first degree and a campus course; however, you will meet a wide network of professors and many like-minded teachers from all over the world with whom you can share ideas.