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CharlieName: Charlie
Course: Early Childhood [Foundation degree]

"While my children were very young I had always been content working as a teaching assistant in a primary school. I thoroughly enjoyed my job, in particular the opportunities I had to work closely with children with special educational needs. When my youngest child was diagnosed with autism I had a personal and professional vested interested in the area of special educational needs, and once all of my children were in school I started to explore careers in this area. Having 4 children and working full-time my options to further my studies were limited. I found the part-time foundation degree on the North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire college website. The degree was part-time, one afternoon/evening per week taught at the college and the occasional Saturdays at the university, making it accessible. Initially I had intended to continue on from the foundation degree to the BA top up and then onto the teacher training programme so eventually I could become a SENCO in a school.

I was very anxious and nervous to start, having not been in any formal education for such a long time. The ladies on my course were lovely and we all very quickly became friends and we were a great support for each other’s learning. The lecturers were very knowledgeable and extremely adaptable to our learning needs, understanding our work and family commitments and respecting our multi-disciplinary backgrounds and incorporating our individual knowledge and experience into our learning. I found this shared knowledge a valuable resource in my own learning journey. It was also a great comfort at times having peers that were in the same situation juggling work and family, having an understanding of the guilt of time taken away from my family to study but encouraging each other in times of difficulty. Initially there were challenges with time management, especially in the week commencing where an assignment was due but this got easier as the course progressed and as family members and friends accepted, understood and supported some of the sacrifices I would have to make during this time.

By the second year of the degree I changed job roles and moved to the pre-school as an early year’s practitioner. My confidence had grown with the knowledge I had gained. I felt I was able to carry out my job to the highest standard which inevitably benefitted the children and families I worked with.

I have graduated from the foundation degree this year and since graduating I have applied for and secured the role of Pre-School SENCO which will commence this September. I have already enrolled onto the BA top up with the University of Warwick and I am very much looking forward to my research dissertation in an area I feel passionate about. I intend to continue my studies beyond the BA and have started to explore my options of working with adult learners in Further Education while continuing research at postgraduate level.

I would absolute recommend this degree as a starting point for those working within the early years sector to both support and improve their current work in practice but also to give them the means and opportunity develop professionally."