Enjoy the journey, rather than the destination. It is not about the qualification, it is about what you do along the way.
More about James
We spoke to James about his previous studies within Special Educational Needs and Disabilities here at NTU. James also tells us about the inspirational future plans he has once he has completed his PhD.
Why did you choose to study at NTU?
I decided to go to NTU due to the combination of strands in Special Education and Psychology. After consulting colleagues in my field, these strands were highlighted to me of being of upmost importance to my chosen career path and NTU were one of only 3 organizations in the country which combined them so effectively. Also, being from London, I wanted somewhere that was easy enough for me to travel home to when I needed.
What did you learn about yourself and your course?
During my time at NTU I learned that I was capable. Being a mature student, with no previous academic qualifications, I had doubts over my ability to complete a university degree. I smile when I think about how I achieved a lifelong ambition which serves to support my professional and personal development. The teaching, especially Special Education, I will always remember with fondness.
What did you do that enhanced your employment prospects?
There were many things I did during my time at NTU which, I believe, have enhanced my employability prospects. My course had a placement element incorporated, so I spent some time working with children with SEND in Indonesia. I also took part in the Sustainability in Practice program, which is something I know most companies are fond of.
What does your current working day look like?
Iam currently in my 2nd year of a PhD within the Institute of Education at NTU, where my area of research is Spirituality and Academic Performance for pupils with SEND. After completing my MA (also at NTU), I was encouraged to develop the research area from my dissertation into a PhD. I was very settled in Nottingham and NTU have always been supportive of my professional progression, so it seemed like a good idea to continue my journey there.
What attracted you to this field of work?
I had 7 years of practical experience before joining NTU, so I had a strong interest through this. I have never felt more valuable than when I am helping these children. It is a challenging field, but so rewarding.
What challenges have you faced since graduating NTU?
I have wanted to publish some of my work, but it has not been straight forward. Trying to find the time (outside of a full-time job/study) is very challenging. However, I was able to change my previous job timetable to give me one day per week to focus solely on writing and publications. It has taken me nearly two years, but this year I will have two publications which I am so proud of.
Do you have any highlights of your career and studies so far?
I do not have a particular highlight. I know some people might choose to focus on achievements, but I don’t really like the social and cultural narrative that defines people by their accomplishments. Instead, my highlights revolve around how my achievements benefit others. For example, when I see my knowledge and skill set having a positive impact on a child’s life then I am happy.
What are your plans for the future?
I am going to open a school for children with SEND. The location of this school will be within a country where the need is particularly important. I have spent some time working/living in Asia and there seems to be many suitable locations in this region. I also, since starting my PhD, would like to utilize my research skills to develop more innovative, holistic teaching strategies for pupils with SEND.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at Uni?
I would tell myself to enjoy the journey, rather than the destination. It is not about the qualification, it is about what you do along the way.
Connect with James on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-hardy-43374259/
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