Former PhD Student Awarded Prestigious Fellowship

Dr Kathryn Spicksley - web
Dr Kathryn Spicksley

Dr Kathryn Spicksley won the British Educational Research Association (BERA) 2022 Doctoral Thesis award, which recognises academic excellence and rigour in research by a Doctoral student.

“I’m really thrilled.” she said. “I never expected to win the BERA award, which was wonderful in itself. Now being awarded the Fellowship on top is just fantastic.”

Kathryn was awarded a fully-funded University of Worcester PhD studentship, which she completed in 2021, before going on to work as a Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton.

Her PhD, supervised by Professor Alison Kington and Dr Karen Blackmore, was focused on teacher retention and was titled “New Faces and Changing Places: Discourse, identity and early career primary teachers in post-2010 Multi-Academy Trusts”.

“There has never been a focus on helping teachers to develop positive professional identities for themselves,” she said. “People go in to teaching with strong altruistic motives, but they come up against lots of barriers which can leave them feeling very negative about the profession. I hope that my research will provide some practical insight in to how we can help teachers feel good about what they do and, in the long-term, aid retention.”

Kathryn’s research uses innovative methods to explore how teachers talk about their lives and worlds. “My postdoctoral fellowship will build on my previous research and allow me to work collaboratively with teachers and mentors in order to develop interventions,” she said.

During her time at Worcester, Kathryn, who became a mother for the first-time part way through her PhD, was the student representative for PhD students, and was heavily involved in student life, publishing lots of articles.

“It was amazing doing my PhD at Worcester,” she said. “I had a lot of great support and was encouraged to develop myself as a researcher.”

Kathryn read Theology at Oxford University before completing a PGCE at Cambridge and then embarking on a career in teaching. After a few years she made the decision to apply for the University of Worcester’s fully-funded PhD.

“I am really keen to stay in research now,” she said. “I feel like there is so much more to learn.”