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AlanaName: Alana
Course: Early Childhood [Foundation degree]

"I have always been fascinated to work with children of all ages, especially young children. I have been lucky enough to have given birth to four boys who now are at the ages of 10, 8, 6 and 5. My previous profession was working in retail which I thoroughly enjoyed but I found the shift patterns tiring as I had to work a lot of evening shifts. I used to miss my husband and bedtime routine with my children, so I fancied a career change. At the age of 28, I enquired about voluntary work at my children’s primary school. I volunteered as a teaching assistant whilst my boys were attending either nursery or school. The voluntary hours fitted perfectly, however I still needed to continue with my evening job in retail to keep an income coming in.

After a couple of months, I knew in my heart that I wanted to continue supporting children in the classroom and I wanted to make a difference to their lives. At the end of the year I enrolled on a “Level Three Diploma in Supporting Teaching and Learning in schools”. I gained this qualification in 2017 and soon afterwards applied for a full-time vacancy at the school. Presently, I am still working at the same school as a teaching assistant and have had the opportunity to support children across different age ranges, with different academic abilities and children with additional needs. Once I had achieved my Level Three Diploma, I had the passion to continue my learning and in 2018 decided to attend an open day event during a weekend which advertised the part-time Early Childhood Foundation Degree at Warwick University. The open day event was not compulsory, and I remember feeling nervous attending on my own. I didn’t know what to expect and was doubting myself if I could sustain the academic expectations considering I hadn’t even completed my A-Levels which was 14 years ago! I remember Dr. Sarah Cousins (director of the course) leading the event and I immediately felt relaxed and comfortable in her presence. It was a lovely experience to meet the other Warwick tutors and other potential students looking as nervous as me sitting in the room. I was able to ask the Warwick team any questions about the course or insecurities I felt. They were so helpful and understanding.

After speaking to my husband, we discussed the arrangements necessary for me to start the degree programme. He was (is) so supportive and after I had applied for a place on the course and applied for funding etc. It was all systems go once the enrolment process had been confirmed. I am now 32 years old and about to finish my second year of the Foundation Degree, attending one evening a week at the campus and the occasional Saturday. The experience as an adult learner has been so rewarding and at times challenging. I have made lots of new friends in my cohort, the tutors are amazing at offering support and my own personal tutor Dr Charlotte Jones is phenomenal at ensuring the students feel confident completing their studies. Along with the tutors, the Centre for Lifelong Learning well-being team is available constantly offering a variety of support, especially during this current global pandemic. My next objective after completing this Foundation Degree is to top up to a BA (Hons) degree and potential career goal is to complete teacher training after I graduate.

If you are thinking about completing an adult learners’ course, I would recommend you think about balancing and organising aspects of your life. This will involve arranging time to work, study, spending time with family and friends, your own well-being. Everyone’s lives are different, but you will need to work out a balance that suits your lifestyle. Embrace any support available from either a partner, close friend or family member and do not be afraid to ask for help. Your loved ones will support you however they can… good luck!"