Welcome to the Postgraduates in Education Support Network (PESN). PESN has been set up by Sharon Smith (PhD research student at the University of Birmingham) and Laura Watson (PhD candidate at the University of Winchester). We are both researching in the field of Education. We met whilst undertaking our undergraduate Education Studies degree at the University of Winchester and have a shared interest in the philosophy of education.

During our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, we have both attended many conferences and events and have enjoyed the space that such events have provided us for gaining inspiration, making links, meeting new people, and having a place to discuss our developing ideas and research in progress. During the first lockdown in 2020 these events were cancelled, and we really missed some of the aspects of these events and started to feel more isolated as we worked remotely. With the transition to online events, we took things into our own hands and organised an online Philosophy of Education based conference for postgraduate students in the field, which was attended by people from all over the world. We realised that there were many postgraduate students who, in a similar fashion to us, were seeking opportunities to share their research, gain feedback and have a general chat about postgraduate life. We recognised the potential opportunity for bringing postgraduate students together, to provide a space that was both supportive and productive.

Our rationale for setting up the Postgraduates in Education Support Network is to create something that is run by postgraduate students for postgraduate students. A network that can support you no matter where you are in your postgraduate journey and where a group of people with similar passions can get together and collaborate. We recognise that although technology has enabled more people to connect in ways that were not possible before, often the informal spaces that offer so much value for postgraduates have been limited  – for instance in the coffee breaks at conferences where we can discuss evolving ideas and make links between presentations we have just watched, or a drink in a café or local pub where the seeds of a joint project might be planted.

We therefore plan to hold a range of events, conferences, coffee meetings, workshops, writing retreats and collaborative writing sessions. This will be a place for postgraduate students to get to know each other and their research and where you might even find someone you would like to work on a project with or it might lead to collaborative writing opportunities. We also welcome Early Career Researchers to get involved, if they are wishing to support the work and development of postgraduate students. The activities that we organise will be based on what fellow postgraduate students feel would help them – rather than things that are designed only to be useful to the Academy. We would love for you to get involved…

Sharon & Laura

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