Exploring teachers identity using life history methodology
Research student spotlight | Kate Bancroft
Kate Bancroft is an interdisciplinary scholar with a background in Physical Education and gender/sex studies, and currently teaches on BA (Hons) Early Education within Carnegie School of Education. Kate has been awarded the title of Senior Fellow (HEA) in 2019. She joined Leeds Beckett University after working for seven years in secondary school teaching where she was previously a secondary school Assistant Headteacher and Head of PE.
- Thesis title: Narrating the social (re)construction of a transgender teacher's identity using a life history methodology
- Research supervisor: Professor Jonathan Glazzard
Tell us a bit about yourself and your path into the research programme.
I joined the doctoral programme in 2016 because I was passionate about equality in education and the study of sex and gender. I wanted to do research in my spare time, outside of teaching, because I wanted to help make important discoveries within the field of gender equality in schools.
I completed my undergraduate BA (Hons) Secondary Physical Education with QTS degree at Leeds Beckett and moved onto the MA Education. However, I grew frustrated moving from module to module on the MA course and wanted to throw myself into only studying one subject topic so transferred from the MA onto the EdD programme, and I haven’t looked back since. I had my doctoral viva examination in April 2021 and it was one of the happiest days of my life.
Why did you choose Leeds Beckett?
I chose Leeds Beckett because I’d had such a happy, enjoyable time studying there at the undergraduate level and then masters level. I knew how much the lecturers cared about their students, and how wonderful the pastoral support was – particularly for postgraduate students trying to balance full-time work with part-time study, as I was as a teacher and school leader. I probably have purple blood because I am Leeds Beckett through and through. I would not have stayed here studying for so many years if I did not truly rate the university myself. I feel incredibly proud to now work here.
What is your research about and what makes you passionate about it?
My research is about gender equality in schools and how this impacts teachers specifically. My study used a life history method to explore the experiences of one male transgender teacher, who succeeded at school and progressed to qualifying and working as a teacher. Life history is a form of biographical research using a narrative approach. An account of his life was collected through a series of life-history oral interviews and email documents. Adopting this approach meant interpretations of his life experiences could be undertaken, and an increased understanding of how one transgender individual experienced, and adapted to, major life events. Instead of viewing the participant’s life as a simple collection of events, his whole history was explored in the context of him having lived in a particular time and under particular circumstances. This helped gain a rich insight through detailed exploration, enabling the details of his life to contribute to new understandings about a contemporary transitioning experience.
I am passionate about it because I am interested in the idea of how gender still dominates schools and I am very interested in the ways in which it can privilege some and disadvantage others.
How would you reflect on your time as a postgraduate researcher at Leeds Beckett?
I loved being a postgraduate researcher at Leeds Beckett University because it is less structured, and I loved the independence of researching the topic that was of specific interest to me. I have also loved the intensity of the course and the way it stretched me. I began living and breathing my research and thesis for the last few years but my favourite thing has been the sense of achievement in passing and knowing all the hard work was worth it!
Kate is an interdisciplinary scholar specialising in secondary school Physical Education teaching. She currently leads one on the undergraduate degrees within Carnegie School of Education and previously ran an MA programme. Kate has been awarded the title of Senior Fellow (HEA). Kate’s doctoral thesis explores sex/gender equality in schools.