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13 February 2019

Special education and parent-practitioner partnerships

Katarzyna Fleming made the transition from teaching to studying for a PhD in Special Education.

Katarzyna Fleming

After working in special education schools for 13 years, Katarzyna Fleming was inspired to study a PhD. In her work, she explores the effects of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice (2015) on parent-practitioner partnerships. 

Katarzyna started her PhD part-time while she was still employed in special education. This allowed her to develop personally and professionally. It also meant she could apply her studies to real-world situations.

‘My professional experience enabled me to contribute to the field of SEND more meaningfully while completing my doctorate.’

Her research focuses on the real experiences of parents and carers. It explores the services they access within education, health and social care, and what they perceive to be the most beneficial provisions, behaviours and approaches.

Transferable skills

Katarzyna wasn’t sure whether her skills were transferable to academia.

But a supportive academic community allowed her to pursue her creativity and interests. She also received excellent practical experience teaching and delivering workshops for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

‘Their enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge reminded me of my younger self and ignited my passion for working with these creative and wonderfully skilled people.’

Juggling studies with family life

Katarzyna balances work and study with her family life.

‘I have learnt not to be too precious about my 'perfect plan' and to be kind to myself as the process can often become too overwhelming with unforeseen turns and twists in the way. 

‘Managing the balance of productive doctoral work and a happy family life is a quality that I nurture and cherish but, when I don't get it right I try my hardest not to let the sky fall down!’.

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Our teaching is informed by research. Browse undergraduate and postgraduate courses with links to this research project, topic or team.

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