We love to hear about what our students achieve after they conclude their studies here at Itchen. We caught up with Sam Andrews who is currently a lecturer in Psychology at Keele University, and asked her to tell us more about her career journey and her experience of studying at Itchen College (@ItchenCollege).
‘I came to Itchen from The Sholing Technology College (now Oasis Academy Sholing). I wasn't at all interested in going to university, as my parents hadn't gone and my GCSEs were very varied. It wasn't until I started to take Psychology, with the-one-and-only James Bailey, that I began to realise I was actually quite good at something. James encouraged me to pick up some more subjects, and I ended up studying Psychology, Sociology, English Lit/Lang, Film Studies, and Biology. I also took the Extended Project Qualification.
During my first year, James encouraged me to go to the Cambridge Summer School. I didn't even know what ‘Cambridge University’ really stood for or meant. My only knowledge of it was from ‘The History Boys’, which we’d been studying in English. I thought there'd be no way I would get in, but James made me promise that if I got a place at the Summer School, I would then apply to the university. Lo and behold, I got into the Summer School and had the best time. I attended Psychology and Sociology lectures, went punting down the river Cam, and had dinner in a Great Hall which was like something out of Harry Potter. I also got the chance to speak to a post-doctoral psychology researcher who was working for a Cambridge Professor called Michael Lamb. I had read a lot of Professor Lamb's books before attending the Summer School, so that was a great experience for me. The morning after I spoke to the post-doc, she approached me and said that Professor Lamb was impressed that I had read up on his work, and that I should apply to his Cambridge College, Sidney Sussex. So I did! I had specific help at Itchen to help me prepare for the upcoming assessments and interviews, in particular from Shaun O’Toole. I remember once there was a fancy dress fun run and I had interview practice scheduled with James, who was dressed up as Superman!
During the admissions process at Cambridge, I was interviewed by 4 professors, including Prof Lamb. I didn't think the interviews went very well, but a few months later I was sat in a Psychology class and Shaun poked his head around the door with a letter. I remember the whole class went quiet. I went outside and Shaun broke the news to me that I had been given a place. My Biology teacher, Claire, cheered as she walked past and my Psychology classmates erupted in congratulations when I walked back into the class. Professor Lamb called me the next day with his congratulations, and to invite me into his Psychology lab.
I started studying Psychology, Politics, and Sociology at Sidney Sussex, University of Cambridge in 2014, under the constant supervision of Professor Lamb. I quickly specialised in Psychology and had a particular interest in forensic interviewing. This definitely stemmed from studying eyewitness testimony at Itchen.
I published my first research paper as a second year undergraduate on the topic, and graduated my degree with a 1st Class Honours. I went on to gain a Masters qualification in Psychology (2014) at Cambridge, and then went on to study my PhD, again at Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Lamb. My PhD was focused on child witnesses in Scottish criminal courts, and was the first time courtroom direct and cross-examinations of children had been systematically examined for the quality of questioning and children's responses. My research has subsequently helped improve practice and policy in the area of forensic interviewing.
After I completed my PhD in 2017, I became a lecturer in Psychology at Keele University and that's where I've been ever since! I now have nearly 40 publications, several book chapters, and have given countless national and international presentations at conferences about best-practice forensic interviewing. I even train police, lawyers, and judges. I teach forensic psychology classes, and sometimes serve as an expert witness in court. I currently have a large research grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate the use of special measures with vulnerable witnesses to further help vulnerable people give evidence in court, and I have 2 PhD students myself!
I still live in Cambridge with my partner, our 3 dogs, and 8 horses! I only had 1 horse, Red, back when I was at Itchen and with the help of James, I even found somewhere to stable him so I could take him to university with me. I still have Red and he's 26 now!
I wouldn't be where I am without Itchen and the ambition that was instilled in me at that time. I can't thank the staff enough for recognising my potential when I didn't see it for myself, pointing me in the right direction, and supporting me all the way. Thank you.’
We are incredibly proud of all that Sam has achieved so far and wish her continued success in the future.