Mary Pottinger - Doctor of Education

As a Deputy Principal at a Decile 10 school, Mary Pottinger has always been mindful of the students who don’t fit the Decile 10 rating. Mary’s research is exploring what it feels like to be a student in a high-decile school but from a low-socioeconomic home, and the current invisibility of that experience.

Mary Pottinger, is studying the EdD part time while working as a Deputy Principal at Takapuna Grammar

"Years ago I studied within the Faculty of Education and Social Work and I read a book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett called The Spirit Level. The book argues that the societies which do the worst, are the ones with the biggest gap between the rich and the poor.

"The theme of that book sat with me for many years. I’m a Deputy Principal at a Decile 10 school and I’ve always been really mindful of those who don’t fit that Decile 10, blunt instrumental, rating.

"One day I was reading the Education and Social Work faculty newsletter and I saw a tagline which said, ‘creating a better society, education, diversity and justice.’ I clicked on it and read about the EdD, guided doctorate, designed to be studied part time, for practitioners who want to look at an aspect of something in their educational institution.

"I talked to my Principal and she said, 'I think it’s a great idea. Just look at it as a year of Professional Learning and Development and if you don't like it, don’t go any further.' And that’s how it started.

"By the end of the first two years of study, we had to put together a proposal for our research, and then we had an oral examination on it. I had started looking at what it feels like to be a student in a high-decile school but from a low-socioeconomic home, and the invisibility of that.

"Now in my fourth year, I have started interviewing former students about their experiences and have a couple of more interviews to go. I hope people will read my research and see themselves in the stories of my participants and feel empowered by it. 

"There are many ways I think my Doctor of Education research has had an impact on my practice. There are a number of things that have come up in the school around policy and procedure, and the things I have learnt have impacted the decisions I have made in my position of management. 

"I can’t recommend the Doctor of Education enough. I couldn’t imagine embarking on a PhD journey without the support of the cohort we had. If you’re a teacher, or anything to do with education, then an EdD is fantastic. I’ve had fantastic support from the University and from my Principal at my school." 

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Find out more about Mary's EdD journey