Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Omar Said Al Sawafi

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Photo of Omar Said Al Sawafi

Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?

I am from the Sultanate of Oman. My previous degrees BA in TESOL and MA in TESOL were also completed at the University of Leeds.  Before I joined the Doctorate Programme in the University of Leeds I was working as senior advisor for English Language teachers in my country. Also, I worked as a TESOL teacher for 13 years, teaching English to students at different levels.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

As the University of Leeds was my choice for my BA and MA degrees, I made my decision to continue my PhD in the same university due to the high quality of facilities and services provided to students and due to the support I received from the well-known tutors and supervisors in my area of study.

What makes you passionate about your area of study?

My study explored and investigated the beliefs and practices of teachers of English with regard to the Continuous Assessment (CA) reform in the assessment system in the Sultanate of Oman. CA is a major part of the current educational reform in Oman. Since the introduction of CA, English teachers have been facing challenges in implementing CA in their actual practice. Therefore, I thought that my study could provide the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Oman with information regarding the state of implementation of this important aspect of the ambitious education reform. The results of the study could inform the training programmes to enhance teachers' expertise in CA implementation and contribute to understanding the factors that influence the implementation of CA practices and the beliefs that underlie teachers’ actual behaviours in their classrooms.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

I learned from the course that I need to be systematic and organised throughout the stages of the research and that with much commitment and time management you will be able to make ongoing improvements to the work, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. There have been times when I learned so much about myself, the ways I prefer to work, what motivates me to work and how to set priorities. I learned throughout this course a range of skills and strategies of problem-solving, working within groups and decision-making. Through interaction with colleagues and peers I learned a great deal about other cultures, firstly through communication with the British environment and people, and secondly through interaction with other international research students.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?

I enjoyed studying at the University of Leeds for all my degrees. Leaving my family behind and living abroad in a foreign country to commence the process of PhD was a challenging experience. However, my supervisors support and encouragement throughout this journey, together with the learning facilities in the School of Education and at the University, was a great support to me.

How did you find the student support in the School?

The support within the school of Education is great. All staff of School of Education are very cooperative, and there is also a great level of support from academic staff.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies?

School of Education regularly organises a variety of activities and programmes for students such as short trips to attractions like Peak District and Lake District, I went to these places and they were really amazing.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?

One of the things that made me decide to study at the University of Leeds is the city itself. I like Leeds because it is a multicultural city, where you can meet people from different countries and cultures. What I liked most in Leeds is the countryside, there are a lot of different places to go to enjoy the outdoors activities.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Make sure to have a clear awareness of the research topic from the very beginning and have a passion about it. This will make you continue through the stages of the study with determination, confidence and interest. In addition, don't worry about the support as everyone here in School of Education is keen to provide you with help and support.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course?

My plan is to return to my previous work as advisor for English Language teachers in my country.  Going through PhD process has made me more sympathetic with teachers in general, and with English teachers in Oman in particular. It has made me more aware of the situation in my context, and has given me an appreciation of the difficulties that teachers face when they are required to implement educational reforms. The research period also helped me to become more analytical of my work environment, look at it critically through the eyes of scientific research enquiry, question policies and try to make sense of challenges or needs required in any reform implementation process. 

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