Marley Westell, Online MA Education

Marley Westell, Online MA Education

Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?

I started my teaching career twenty seven years ago. I trained as a teacher in South Africa and moved to the UK in 2003. During this time, I taught in both state and independent schools. My teaching experience has involved working from Nursery to Year 2 mostly. Although, I have taught older children too. My passion remains in early years, and in 2012 I bought my own nursery which has since been graded as Outstanding by Ofsted.

What prompted you to pursue an online programme with University of Exeter? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?

A few years ago, I was invited to join the Kent Children’s Advisory Board and the Specialist teaching and Learning Committee in my local area. I thoroughly enjoy being part of representative bodies which can influence and determine educational policies at a local level. This incentivised me to start looking at what to do next with my career. A friend recommended that I do a Masters and after a thorough search, the online Masters programme at Exeter University offered the best programme of study by a Russell Group University. As a busy working professional and parent, the online option has made it possible for me to continue my studies whilst working and being miles away.

What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and would recommend it to anyone thinking of doing a Masters but who needs to work at the same time or needs to study remotely because of distance or other reasons. The course is designed to be done at your leisure but has set expectations. One has to be self-motivated and disciplined but this is not difficult because the content is very interesting and well designed to maintain your attention. Some modules are more challenging than others, but the tutors are approachable and always available to help. Oliver Taylor was my university support officer and it was a pleasure liaising with him throughout the two years. The focus group forums give you an opportunity to regularly chat to other students on the same module and I found this aspect of the course really useful.

If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?

Although this is an online course, the expectations remain high and the work is most definitely set at a masters level. Therefore, in order to manage the workload involved, one has to set aside a regular amount of time to dedicate to ones studies each week and to complete the weekly tasks so that they don’t overwhelm you. Careful planning is essential and I found mapping out the tasks and assignments in my diary and calendar at the start of each module helped me to stay on track. 

Would you recommend the Exeter programme and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?

I would highly recommend the Exeter programme especially if you have a real passion for education and want to extend your understanding of recent educational trends. I really enjoyed all the modules but particularly benefitted from the modules on Educational Leadership, Understanding Education and Learning and doing research for my dissertation. Although it was nerve wracking, I was given careful guidance by Dr Banerjee and this made it easier to manage. I have definitely.

Is there anything you’d like to add or anything you’d like to talk about that we did not touch on?

Online learning is not for everyone. However, if you are self-disciplined, motivated and focused this course will be right for you. I found it to be very rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable, to the point that my family kept asking me ‘to give it a break’ every time I bleated on about something I had learnt or discovered on the course. Definitely worth pursuing if you are interested in doing a Masters of Education.


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