What our students say

Hear what former students on the Sheffield EdD say about their experience and the benefit this has had on their careers.

Dr Jonty Clark, OBE, Executive Head Teacher, Beckmead Schools

JontyClarkOBEI engaged in distance learning with the University of Sheffield School of Education from 1998 – 2004 where I completed an MEd in Special and Inclusive Education and an EdD. I’m glad I moved from one degree to the other without taking a break as I’m not sure I would have managed to get studying again if I’d taken a ‘gap year’ aged 38! The Masters degree was exceptionally challenging as my career then, as now, was working in special schools.

I’d drive to Sheffield for a weekend every term and do battle (nearly literally) with a group of exceptional academics who kept telling me that all children should be educated in a mainstream setting irrespective of any additional needs they might have. Having to articulate and contextualise in spoken and written language my views on difference, disadvantage and education (whilst keeping calm) was a formative experience. I remember sitting in the bar one evening with Professor Wilfred Carr talking about his amazing book ‘Becoming Critical’ and thinking… ‘this is what’s happening to me’. In spite of our differing views on special education, the inclusive education team helped me develop a much broader and reflective view about the children and families I work with and the other stakeholders I engage with through my work. Derick Armstrong’s book, ‘Power and Partnership in Education’ and the sessions he taught around this publication has always informed the way I think about family engagement work carried out by the organisations I lead.

Since studying at Sheffield I have led two inner London schools designated for pupils identified as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health Issues (SEMH) from being judged to be failing to securing Ofsted judgements of ‘Outstanding’. Six years ago I moved to work in Croydon and became Headteacher of a small, dispirited, failing SEMH school, the Beckmead Family of Schools is now the largest special school in the country. On May 5th this year I was invited to Buckingham Palace and was awarded an OBE for my ‘Services to Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs’. For me the honour represented the amazing efforts and achievements of the wonderful children and exceptional colleagues I have worked with over the years.

Read more testimonials from EdD Educational Studies Students


Sapna Thapa, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stout

"I had always wanted to obtain a higher education degree, and early childhood was my passion; even before I completed my MA degree, I was certain that I wanted to continue with the EdD. Dr. Rachael Levy was an amazing mentor who guided my doctoral studies. Her continuous support helped to raise the standards of my assignment papers to a very high level. My doctoral thesis explored the elusiveness of equity and quality in Early Childhood Education policies, and compared polices of two diverse countries (Nepal and USA). The excellent support and encouragement I received from my thesis supervisor, Professor Elizabeth Wood, helped me overcome many constraints and barriers and led me to complete my thesis within four years, despite the devastation that followed after the massive earthquakes in my home country, Nepal.

The thesis was recently selected as the “Rhedding-Jones Outstanding Dissertation 2016” by the Re-conceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) organization. The award was presented during the RECE conference in New Zealand. The EdD degree has opened many doors and I am currently working as a full-time tenure track faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I am grateful to have had such an amazing group of people as my mentors. They continue to inspire me to question the status quo, to reflect, and to be passionate about research and teaching. "

Read more testimonials from EdD Early Childhood Education


Frank McMahon, Honorary President

“The School of Education was most welcoming and supportive, and I formed friendships with fellow students that continue to this day.

The programme turned out to be exactly what I needed, and by graduation I was prepared to undertake a new role of Director of Academic Affairs. This role involved responsibility for academic policy, quality assurance, graduate studies, admission, library services, a learning & teaching unit and other central units.

Most recently I have become the Honorary President of a Chinese university, offering guidance on how it might reform its practices. The Sheffield EdD has facilitated all of my activities since my study. Undertaking the EdD was truly a life-changing experience.”