We caught up with former TLI student Clare recently. Clare completed her BA (Hons) Professional Practice with The Learning Institute in 2018.
Course: BA (Hons) Professional Practice top-up degree
Alumni - Year of graduation: 2018
Tell us a bit about what you are doing now?
I work in a 3 form entry primary school in West London as a Year 3 teacher.
How did you find the process of returning to education/study?
It felt very daunting at first, a lot of the terminology was very new to me. I had never needed to triangulate my findings, think about the methodology of what I was researching or include any referencing. Having deadlines to meet was scary at first but helped to keep my studies on track.
How has your life changed since you graduated?
Having worked in schools for 7 years in a variety of support staff roles I felt very comfortable in front of a class of children. Once I had completed the first year of my foundation degree I was confident enough to apply for a HLTA position. I needed to test out whether a class of children would listen to me before I committed to the final top up year. I’m a much more confident person now and as I’m earning a pretty good salary I have more independence and more money to enjoy myself when I’m not working.
What did/do you enjoy most about studying for your degree?
I really enjoyed our class sessions; it was so interesting to hear about other people’s school experiences. I had no idea how EYFS worked or how special needs settings function, and it was interesting to get a flavour of these. I found that researching the different aspects of teaching and learning fed into my day-to-day job as a teaching assistant and I got a lot more out of my role. I also met some amazing tutors, they had all been teachers and were full of colourful stories.
What was your biggest challenge during your study and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was juggling family life with studying for hours on end in the evenings and at weekends. I overcame this by getting other family members to step up to the plate and help with cooking and household chores to give me the time I needed to focus on my assignments. Once I had got my first assignment under my belt I never worried that I wouldn’t make it to the end because I was given lots of meaningful feedback which I did my best to use. The other issue I had was that I needed to pass my GCSE science to qualify as a primary school teacher. That was nearly the hardest part of the whole process as I was supported every step of the way by my tutors from TLI when studying for the degree. The GCSE relied on self-study in a subject I hadn’t thought about for 30 years, and it nearly drove me to breaking point. I had learnt to be very resilient over the previous 3 years though, and I knew it was the final hurdle to jump over so over I jumped!
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about going back to education?
If you are thinking about doing it, you are already halfway there. I would recommend going to a TLI open evening to find out more about what is involved. If you are anything like me, you will come out full of enthusiasm and it will be just what you need for the final push into returning to education. Find out how many hours you will be expected to study and think about whether you can fit this in and around your already busy life but don’t let this put you off – you will, by your own volition, decide to do more. The result is absolutely worth all the hard work, I still find it hard to believe I managed it and that is a great feeling.