Lancaster University

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Former teacher achieves her lifetime ambition

12/14/2011 00:00:00
​A former teacher has achieved the highest academic degree almost fifty years after being told she was not good enough for university.

Jane Platt, 63, who lives near Carlisle in Cumbria, was told by her teachers that she was not suitable for a university education. She has since achieved a PhD in History from Lancaster University and is working on her first book.

“When I got to Lancaster University, I was like a child in a sweetshop because it was so exciting. When you finally get something that you’ve wanted all your life, you can’t stop studying.  I’m finally the  “me” that I always wanted to be. I thought I was useless but I feel thrilled that I’ve come so far.”

Jane said nothing in her background had prepared her for higher education.

“I came from a poor background of housemaids and estate tenants -  it was a different world back then. I wanted desperately to go to university and I was top of the form in English and History but bottom in Maths so I wasn’t allowed to go. I was pushed off to teacher training college instead but it wasn’t fulfilling.”

Jane qualified as a teacher in 1969 and taught for 30 years before taking a part-time degree with the Open University, where she achieved First Class honours.

“Both of my daughters went to university and one is now a professor in the US so I thought, maybe I could do this too. But I had to earn money so I taught part-time and did my degree that way and it was amazing.”

She then did an MA in Historical Research at Lancaster University in 2007, gaining a Distinction, and two prizes – in Local History and the prize for the best dissertation of the year.

This was followed by a PhD which was highly commended by the external examiners.  She is currently working on turning her PhD thesis into a book on parish magazines in 19th century England.

Jane’s former PhD supervisor Dr Thomas Dixon said it had been a pleasure to oversee her postgraduate research.

He said: “As a mature student, Jane brought a breadth of experience and knowledge to her work which added an extra dimension to her studies. She has excelled at both Masters and PhD level, producing original and fascinating work on the place of the parish magazine in Victorian life.  Jane has three attributes that are essential for any excellent historian: curiosity, determination, and an elegant literary style."