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Lydia Taylor-Crooke

MA Education (Children and Young People's Mental Health)

headshot image of Lydia Taylor-Crooke

During my time working as Head of Department, I noticed an increase in students who were battling with their mental health. I wanted to seek a degree that would not only satisfy my intellectual curiosity, but also provide me with the information and skill set necessary to pursue a more tailored career in education and mental health.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I am currently the Senior Mental Health Lead for an Academy Status Secondary School. This role involves providing mental health support and education to both staff and students. I also manage Personal, Social, and Health Education for students in Key Stages 3, 4, and 5, as well as teach GCSE and A Level Psychology. Prior to being appointed as Mental Health Lead, I was the Head of a Social Science Department. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years and enjoy positively impacting people’s lives and contributing to their futures. Psychology has always been my passion, which I pursued during my college and undergraduate studies. I am grateful for the opportunity to use my knowledge to benefit others.

Why were you interested in an MA?
I was at a stage in my life where I was ready for a new challenge: my eldest child was now an adult, and my youngest was starting GCSEs. During my time working as Head of Department, I noticed an increase in students who were battling with their mental health. I wanted to seek a degree that would not only satisfy my intellectual curiosity, but also provide me with the information and skill set necessary to pursue a more tailored career in education and mental health. This is not to say I wasn’t nervous; 20 years away from academic studies can produce a sense of overwhelm at the prospect of returning, but I felt prepared to take the plunge.

What inspired you to study the MA at Edge Hill University?
In my work as an A Level teacher, I assisted numerous students with UCAS and became aware of the University’s excellent reputation. When investigating for an MA, it was crucial to me that the degree was not just focused on education; I wanted it to be integrated with a special emphasis on young people’s mental health. I was ecstatic when I discovered this unique approach to the MA Education at Edge Hill, and I consider myself extremely fortunate and blessed to be a member of the inaugural cohort. In addition to the subject matter, the flexibility to study part-time was critical in allowing me to maintain my professional work while balancing my education.

Why did you choose to study at Edge Hill University?
The University has an excellent reputation, it is conveniently located, and is extremely well-resourced. I’d heard nothing but amazing things. In particular, it was the course’s specialised pathway that drew me to the university.
What are the top 3 skills your MA course is supporting you to develop?
1. Confidence. The support provided from all the staff and fellow students has been immeasurable.
2. Academic research skills.
3. Academic writing skills.

What insights are you gaining from your current studies and how is this supported by your course tutors?
Most importantly, I have improved my abilities to study and write at the MA level. My tutors have been wonderful at demonstrating how to achieve this through examples and scaffolding the development of my work. They have also helped to instil confidence and motivation in me, so that as a student, I believe I am capable of achieving my goals. The mental health pathway has been beneficial in my professional capacity; it has assisted me in implementing new policies in school, ensuring that a whole-school approach is used at my institution. Through the assignments and my dissertation, I was able to conduct my own participatory research, which allowed me to assess present mental health provision and prepare for future improvements. I am so excited for what to do next.

What are you most enjoying about your MA studies, and what are the challenges, and how have you overcome these?
I have enjoyed meeting and working with other academics. It has been amazing to discuss practices in other educational institutions at all levels. The course, I believe, was well-planned. I felt it useful to be able to attend on weekends and enjoyed spending my Saturdays on campus. The assignment deadlines were always well timed, and the three-year flexibility, with the end of the academic year in May, suited my work because the summer term is particularly demanding. The University has procedures/resources to make appropriate adjustments, and although I didn’t need them, knowing that they were available was reassuring.

How has the degree supported you in balancing studying and working / working in school or setting?
The route was well organised. Many part-time MA programmes run two years, with classes held in the evenings and continuing into July. This course, I felt, was much better suited to me because the lessons were on weekends, and instead of two years, it was split over three, allowing me to finish early in the summer term.

What’s the best thing about Edge Hill University to you?
This is a challenging question. To begin, I would say that the staff, their enthusiasm and support, have been what has kept me motivated and inspired over the last three years. Second, there are excellent resources on campus. If I were a young person choosing my undergraduate course now, I would not hesitate to attend Edge Hill; it would be a beautiful safe place to live while studying.

How have/will your MA studies support your career progression?
This course has played a significant role in my professional development. After I started the course and discussed what I was learning with my Senior Leadership Team, it was agreed to appoint me as Senior Mental Health Lead. Since then, I have not looked back. After two years, I’m still learning and growing in my professional role. I am eager to continue with my PHD, again with an emphasis on mental health and education.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying the MA at Edge Hill University?
Just DO IT!!!! If like me, you have been out of academic study for 20 plus years, don’t let this phase you. The support is magnificent and I promise you won’t regret it and you won’t look back.

How has Edge Hill supported you during your degree?
Being available whenever required. My module tutors and academic tutor were always on hand with advice. No question was ever too much, even when it was about trivial things such as my incompetence at times with technology.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A huge thank you! I cannot express my gratitude to the University enough for everything. You’ve sparked my interest in studying and carrying out research. I hope to continue with this in the future. Keep doing what you are doing; as a fellow educator, I know how important it is to be reminded of our accomplishments and value.