After taking a gap year after A Levels at the Blue Coat, Kathryn gained a degree and a PhD in Physics at Durham University. Having joined the Government Statistical Service as a fast streamer at the Department for Education, and managing a team of analysts in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Kathryn has now returned to Durham University as their Business Intelligence Manager.


What years were you at The Blue Coat School?

1995 – 1997


How would you describe your time at the School?

The best of my school years, which definitely represented one of my better choices in life. I benefitted from some really dedicated teachers, and, as A-level students, we were all studying subjects that we really wanted to learn. The mix of students was fairly diverse, and the camaraderie across the sixth form made for a pretty good environment. I’m still in touch with old friends from the Blue Coat and some of their stories are incredible.


How did your experience at the Blue Coat prepare you for your career?

As my maths and physics background has been crucial to my career journey to date, I would credit my maths and physics teachers with preparing me academically – they did an amazing job. Aside from that, the structure of the sixth form centre helped me to develop communication skills with a range of people, practical lessons developed team work skills, and the sixth form social life – particularly Graham Hughes’ legendary house parties – prepared me for the less academic side of university life!


What has been your path since leaving the School?

I took a gap year and worked in telecommunications research & development: I organised the placement through the Year in Industry scheme, and still maintain friendships and networks built during that experience. Following that, I gained a degree and a PhD in Physics at Durham University. I joined the Government Statistical Service as a fast streamer at the Department for Education, then managed a team of analysts in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, informing the development and evaluation of Higher Education policies and supporting three successive Higher Education ministers. My most recent career move has been back to Durham University.


What do you do now?

I am now the Business Intelligence Manager at Durham University. My team is responsible for providing the evidence base to develop and monitor the University strategy and plans, and to support decision-making. It’s a really interesting job and I work with some fun and talented people.


What would be your advice to students at the School today?

Work hard, enjoy yourselves, make the most of it. If you plan to attend university, you’ll need more than just good grades to stand out from the crowd and Blue Coat provides a lot of opportunities to make sure you achieve that. Don’t forget your friends, and never shut a door behind you – whether real or metaphorical!

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