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Doctoral students begin their research at Marjon University Cornwall

Released: 11.03.21

In February 2021 Marjon University Cornwall welcomed PhD students for the first time. The Truro campus celebrated its first ever graduates in 2020, and three of these MA Education students, who are also teachers locally, successfully applied to continue their research through PhDs.

The introduction of Marjon postgraduate research students, who also work as teachers in Cornwall, means that high quality educational research is being conducted in the county. This will support change on a local scale and influence national thinking.

Marjon Cornwall Provost, Professor Tanya Ovenden-Hope said: “All of our Master’s students who graduated are full-time teachers and school leaders. They invested time in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills to research important educational questions to improve practice.”

The three PhD students are Dave Nicholls, Head of Year 8 at Newquay Tretherras Secondary School and Kathryn Donnelly and Faye Chandler, who both teach at St Columb Minor School, also in Newquay.

Professor Ovenden-Hope continued: “All three of these committed teachers have chosen to complete a doctorate, because they’ve targeted an area of education that their research can contribute to changing or improving. Their dedication to educational research has the potential to be transformational in Cornwall and beyond." 

Dave Nicholls is exploring the disparity in vocational qualifications. He added: “As teachers, our role is to celebrate learning and to open minds as to the roads and paths which education can lead us down.

“The PhD at Marjon offers this opportunity, not only enabling me to learn about the field in which I work, but contributing new information at the same time, shaping the landscape for future learners and educators to explore.”

Kath Donnelly is the Pupil Premium lead and Faye Chandler heads the Mathematics curriculum at St Columb Minor School. They’re both researching how their roles can support students more effectively.

Kath commented: “After seeing the impact of Covid-19 on children within my setting, it inspired me to research the ways in which those from disadvantaged backgrounds could be supported differently.

“My research will provide critical insight for schools in how to support the wellbeing of its pupils and I’m excited to see the difference it will make.”

Faye added: “I believe that research during this pandemic is fundamental, so that we can learn from it and support our pupils more effectively. I’m incredibly passionate about pupil wellbeing and their aspirations in maths.

“My research is going to explore the efficacy of Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) for maths at Key Stage 2. My aim is to influence teaching and learning reform, so that we may support pupils through these unprecedented times.”

Marjon is ranked 3rd in the UK for postgraduate Overall Satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2020.

If you would like to know more about studying MA Education at Marjon University Cornwall, please contact

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