The Western Orthodox University Pontifical Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree is designed primarily for Christian educators within the independent (non-government/private) sector who wish to gain academic recognition of their classroom practice through mentored, non-traditional learning. They include teachers in independent Christian and other schools and colleges, Montessori, Steiner and Piaget settings, religious seminaries and Bible colleges.
Because many teachers in the independent sector do not go through government training programmes, they may lack tangible attestation as to their professional standing. The M.Ed. offers a route towards establishing this standing in a way that may be useful both for teachers themselves and the schools which employ them, but that is independent of government ideology and control and set within a traditional Christian vocational context. The programme is designed to fit organically within the setting of a teacher’s professional life and to be suitable for teachers with a wide variety of approaches.
The programme is international in its approach and is not designed to meet the licensing or governmental requirements of any particular country.
Candidates must have completed either:
- a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification of graduate standing
- a full teaching qualification specific to a particular pedagogical method (such as Montessori/Waldorf-Steiner, etc.)
In addition, they must hold a full-time or part-time position as a teacher in a school or other educational setting for at least the duration of the practicum component of the programme, and should have several years of teaching experience to draw upon. This programme is not suitable for those seeking initial teacher training, or who are not teaching currently. Their school will need to provide a senior member of staff to act as on-site mentor for the practicum component, which may incur additional fees payable from the student to the school or member of staff for this supervision. For the purposes of the programme, “senior member of staff” is defined as a serving teacher who is employed in the capacity of Head of Department or a more senior position, or who has ten years of uninterrupted teaching experience or part-time equivalent.
The University permits the participation in the programme of teachers who advocate for creationism and who wish to make creationism a principal subject of their work within the programme.
How the programme works
The student will be assigned a Mentor by the University.
Part 1 – Portfolio of existing professional practice
The student will be required to prepare a portfolio of existing professional practice comprising a detailed survey of teaching experience and pedagogical issues arising from it in a Christian context. The portfolio should be fully annotated to focus on skills developed and learning experiences encountered, with an emphasis on professional development as a teacher within the practical classroom environment and issues arising from Christian principles as applied to each aspect of educational experience. It will be expected that colleagues/line managers/mentors will also contribute to the portfolio through supporting affidavits. The portfolio should function as a reflective element of the programme in which the student’s professional history is encapsulated. The portfolio is assessed by the University.
Part 2 – Supervised practicum
Working under the supervision of a school-based mentor, the student will complete a teaching practicum of not less than six months, in which their professional practice will be assessed in a reflective setting. Essentially, this aspect of the programme concerns the preparation of a second portfolio, but with the difference that this portfolio is concerned with a specific period of assessment. The student should set out the aims of the practicum at the outset, focusing particularly on pedagogical techniques and likely challenges, and explain in detail the nature and aims of the teaching they are to undertake. These aims should in turn form the basis of discussion with the Mentor and the agreement of what amounts to a learning contract in a teaching setting. Outcomes should not focus narrowly on pupil achievement in public examinations, but should instead consider the social, interpersonal and spiritual contexts of the educational process, seen both from a Christian viewpoint and where applicable within a specific pedagogical method. Where an outcome is not achieved, it may still provide a valuable learning experience. The focus of the practicum is on a holistic Christ-centred assessment of the teacher as a functioning professional and on the journey of education for both teacher and pupil, and it may quite properly include aspects of the extra-curricular life of the school and any pastoral activities undertaken outside the classroom itself.
The practicum is assessed by the school-based Mentor and ratified by the University.
Part 3 – Dissertation
Candidates will need to complete a dissertation of 50,000 words. The dissertation must be on a subject of professional relevance to Christian education, and should where possible be directly relevant to the candidate’s own professional practice as a teacher. The dissertation is an opportunity to reflect in a wider pedagogical context upon the aspects of portfolio and practicum that have formed the earlier part of the programme. It may be project-focused or discursive; it need not contain original research, but should be firmly anchored in existing educational practice and show an awareness of pedagogical method. The dissertation is assessed by the University.