It was gentle persuasion from my manager that found me enrolled in The Early Years Foundation Degree! Approaching my 40th birthday I had not undertaken any formal qualification since my NNEB in 1993 and therefore was initially concerned that I would not be up to the job. However within a few weeks of enrolling my confidence soared and I found myself thoroughly enjoying this new challenge. My tutor Dawn was instrumental in supporting me to believe that I could achieve the foundation degree and remained fundamental in supporting me throughout the course. Alongside this the support of the other lecturers Nikki and Sarah was crucial.
My favourite aspect of the course was the teaching sessions that I found both informative and engaging. We were a small group of 12 students and we bonded within the first few weeks. This environment made for lectures that were not only informative but thought provoking and interactive. We were encouraged to contribute throughout which led to interesting debates, discussions and lots of laughter too!
As a practitioner working within a Children’s Centre I found that the subjects covered were important and relevant and I firmly believe that they have made me a more reflective practitioner. I also feel that it gave me greater confidence as a practitioner and I was able to share ideas and knowledge gained throughout the course with other staff members at the Children’s Centre. The observational visits from my tutor Dawn were beneficial and Dawn was able to contribute further to my learning by observing my practice.
With a family at home I can’t say studying was easy but what I can say is that it was worth every minute especially when my family told me how proud they are of of me. I am now studying for my BA in Early Years Education at Bath Spa University and fingers crossed will achieve my degree this year! I'm not sure what follows next but I know that The Early Years Foundation Degree has provided me with the confidence to move forward and do whatever I choose!
Being in my mid fifties, with two grown up children (one of whom was already studying for a degree in Bristol) I was initially very unsure about whether this was the right decision for me. My colleague and I were running a successful village pre-school; I held a relevant level 3 qualification in early years; had worked as an NVQ assessor. I felt I had the knowledge and experience necessary to do my job as an early years practitioner very well, so why should I take on the extra work involved in gaining higher qualifications?
One of my main reasons for doing a higher education course was that I wanted to become an early years professional, giving me a voice and influence within the early years field and with other professionals.
I immediately felt at ease when I came to visit the programme leader Dawn. Everyone I met at the college was helpful and friendly and also genuinely interested in my views and opinions. On a more practical note, as I was travelling in from Aldbourne the location was ideal. The New College team worked very hard to help us feel confident as students and foster in us a sense that we did actually belong in this place of learning.
The course was hard work and certainly quite stressful at times particularly when assignment deadlines loomed, but we supported one another and had steadfast support from all the tutors.
I completed my foundation degree and went on to gain a full degree at Bath Spa University. Since achieving my BA (Hons) I seem to have been bitten by the HE bug and have recently began working towards a Masters module.
“For anyone wondering whether higher education is for them I would encourage them to grasp the opportunity – it is well worth the effort.”
I chose the Foundation Degree in early years to continue my professional development. I’d done various short courses around my job but wanted something with a bit more depth. I was concerned about essay writing and my IT skills as I hadn’t really done anything since I left school (many years before) but there were actually study skill sessions in the first term of the course which really helped.
I found the modules varied and they built on my existing knowledge; Making Learning Visible was particularly interesting as I was working in a District Specialist Centre at the time and the observations for that piece of work really helped me pinpoint some areas to work on with one autistic lad. The Guest Speakers bought a new dimension to what I knew about Early Years, after the Forest School session I went on to find out more and eventually became and Advanced Forest School Practitioner myself.
The course certainly improved my practice and also made me a much more critical thinker which gave me the confidence to challenge and change things within my working environment.
I went on to Bath Spa to do the full BA and again this was fascinating; the Reggio module gave me a whole new slant on the pre-school environment and the importance of process not product. This tied in well with the Fundamental Skills and Yoga module combined with a module about Creativity which broadened my thinking on not only how capable children are but how one can learn so much outside the traditional classroom or setting.
I went on to work for a Local Authority as their Play Development Advisor encouraging staff to get children outside to learn and also working with communities on their public play spaces. I am currently self employed as an Outdoor Play Consultant running staff training sessions and now come back to college to Guest Speak and run outdoor workshops for a variety of students. Last week I had a mention in Nursery World Magazine regarding my work on nature play. The degree gave me much more confidence and underpinned my knowledge which has helped me get to where I am now.
“A new chapter in my life commenced. I was officially an undergraduate!”
“It was daunting at first, of course, but it didn’t take long to feel at home. I felt my knowledge and confidence increase as the months moved swiftly by. There were times when it was difficult to fit everything in and I briefly went into panic mode. But it’s not unmanageable, everyone survives! I took a lot away with me from my time at New College; knowledge, skills, ambition and friends. As a small group we really supported each other and we all missed our weekly laughs when we didn’t have to attend college. So of course, we’re still in touch with each other.
But you know the best bit? Graduation Day! What a feeling! Standing there in my cap and gown, I felt on top of the world. What a reward for my hard work. I did decide to continue my studies as I still want to teach. So, I’ve enrolled at Bath Spa University for my third year. Reading the handbooks, the ‘Can I do this?’ question pops up again but I remind myself how I felt two years ago and how great I felt on that day in July. I know I’ll be there again in July 2012 and I can’t wait.”