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The Learning Institute

The Learning Institute

Meet Our Students

Find out more about life as a foundation degree student from our student ambassadors.

Amber - FdA Learning and Education student 

Photo of Amber

Name: Amber 

DegreeFdA Learning and Education 

Start date: September 2020

Location: Ilfracombe, Devon 


Current job role: I am a early years practitioner and have been for a few years. I currently volunteer in a small school in which the nursery and reception children are together. I really enjoy working with children and helping them to smash their targets. By identifying barriers to learning and trying to work through them.

How did I hear about TLI?: I had looked into it once before, but then decided it was not the right time. This I now regret and should have just gone for it. But I had reservations about finances and time management. 

Experience so far: Considering everything that has been going on over the last year, the support and quick implementation of new ways to work around problems, that have arisen, have been phenomenal. The communication between tutors and students is good and all the tutors are very approachable.   

Advice for prospective students: Just go for it. I was so worried that I was not capable of doing it or wasn't able to manage the course, along with other commitments Speak to the team and they will be able to see what is available, if you can get help, depending on individual circumstances and how to apply.  I had so many things in my head saying not to do this. But in reality I am doing this it is in bite size chunks and if I am unsure I ask. Engage with your tutors. 

Random fact: I am a mum, and full time carer, as well as a full time student. So it is manageable.

Aspirations for after my studies: I would like to go on to become a teacher with a emphasis on additional needs. I worked in a special school before and found this really rewarding and worthwhile. 

Evie - FdA Early Years Professional student 

Photo of EvieName: Evie

Degree: FdA Early Years Professional

Start date: September 2020

Location: Poole, Dorset


Current job role: Early Years Practitioner in a local prep school

How did I hear about TLI?: I heard about TLI from a friend who encouraged me to apply.

Experience so far: My experience so far has been amazing and I can hand on heart say this the best thing I have ever done, not only for myself professionally, but also personally. My confidence and self-belief have improved so much as well as feeling I am achieving academically (something I thought I would never do). All the tutors are so supportive and helpful. I couldn’t ask for a better educational experience.

Advice for prospective students: If you are unsure about whether this is right for you or not then I’d say try it. It’s better to try something than live with the regret of not. I’m fairly confident you will find you absolutely love it! Everyone is nervous and in the same boat but all the support that TLI put in place soon takes those worries away. You will find not only are the tutors supportive but so are your fellow students and you will always have someone who will support and guide you.

Random fact: A random fact about me (which is actually very useful for my studies) is that I absolutely adore reading and I can read a book in a day. It has been known for me to finish a book in under a day!

Aspirations for after my studies: I intend to continue working in the Early Years with a particular interest and ambitions to work in Maintained Nursery Settings to help vulnerable families and make a real difference. The Early Years is the very start and the most important part of a child’s learning journey and I want to help every child have every opportunity to succeed. I also aim to continue studying and learning for as long as I possibly can!!

Hayley - FdA Learning and Education student 

Photo of HayleyName: Hayley

Degree: FdA Learning and Education

Start date: September 2020

Location: Ilfracombe, Devon


Current job role: Work experience in primary education (Key Stage 1). Student representative, part of the Learning Institute Governing body and an Ambassador.

How did I hear about TLI?: A family friend

Experience so far: Positive, really enjoying the course and getting to know fellow students, I am inspired by the level of support offered and how everyone wants to see each other achieve.

Advice for prospective students: If you're unsure, say yes as anything is possible, you just need to believe in yourself. I had a time when I wondered if I could do this with 2 small children, I have grown in confidence and will never look back.

Random fact: A bolt of lightning is 5 times hotter than the Sun.

Aspirations for after my studies: My plans are to carry on until i reach teacher status, within primary education. I have a passion for the safety and welfare of children, so would like to explore avenues of being able to help.

Kate - FdA Inclusive Education student 

Picture of Kate

Name: Kate 

DegreeFdA Inclusive Education 

Start date: September 2019

Location: Roche, Cornwall 


Current job role: Stay at home mum of three, volunteer in a primary school, run a local stay-and-play. 

How did I hear about TLI?: A friend’s sister had done her teacher training with The Learning Institute and recommended it to me. 

Experience so far: Until recently, learning happened through a pretty even split between face-to-face sessions with other local students on different degrees, and live online sessions with all the other students studying Inclusive Education which gave a rounded learning experience, and plenty of support for studying.  Of course, global events have rather stopped the face-to-face sessions recently!  I’ve managed to fit independent study around my family commitments with help from my husband and parents, and it’ll get easier next academic year when my littlest starts nursery.   

Advice for prospective students: Being organised and having a routine for when you will do work-based learning hours and independent study really helps! 

Random fact: I have five pygmy goats called Colin, Brian, Jubilee, Marilyn and Lester (as well as chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, fish and my lovely old spaniel, Zennor). 

Aspirations for after my studies: I would like to complete teacher training after my degree and hope eventually to work as a SENCo. 

Kim - FdSc Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People student 

Picture of Kim

Name: Kim

DegreeFdSc Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People

Start date: September 2019

Location: Plymouth, Devon

Current job role: I’m currently a higher-level teaching assistant in a mainstream school

How did I hear about TLI?: I have previously attended a campus university on two occasions and found that for me due to family commitments this was not the best way to study.  This lead me to search for a course that would fit in around my family and working commitments. I looked at studying lots of at home type courses and looked at lots of reviews about these types of learning, then I came across The Learning Institute on a Google search. I spent the next few days reading all that The Learning Institute had to offer and then decided I wanted to look at the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People course a bit more in depth. I emailed one of the tutors asking for more information and they responded right away. I decided this was the course for me and applied straight away.

Experience so far: I started the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People course in September 2019. There are 7 of us in the Plymouth centre and we are studying a mixture of degrees. At first I questioned how this would work. Would it benefit us when we are all studying different degree? But it does.

The Plymouth group have become firm friends and we use our knowledge and different perspectives to network and help each other when we need support. As well as this the tutors are fantastic at responding and keeping in touch, I have found that The Learning Institute is a lot more personal then the campus experience I had previously attended. I have had so much support from the staff, especially as a student with dyspraxia which was something they helped me uncover.

Advice for prospective students: My advice to anybody looking to study with The Learning Institute is go for it! It is strange at first attending online collaborations, being in mixed degree groups and attending conference weekends but it will soon become second nature and it is by far the best choice I have made when it comes to further education.

Leanndra - FdSc Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People student 

Picture of Leanndra

Name: Leanndra

Degree: FdSc Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People

Start date: September 2019

Location: Northolt, London

Current job role: I am currently working as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant and I have been working in my school for five years. 

How did I hear about TLI?: I heard about The Learning Institute from the course leader of the HLTA course I had completed as a suggestion for next steps. I chose to study with TLI because of the flexible hours and option to work mainly online so I could still attend work as well as look after my family. From the moment I first made contact just to enquire, a tutor contacted me to find out more about me and guided me every step of the way to sign up.  

Experience so far: This course has changed a few things in my life. I feel very excited and motivated about my future and I feel like I'm making a difference in the world. It has given me the confidence to explore new avenues and work prospects. Having a family, a job and doing a degree can be daunting at first but once you learn how to manage your time correctly it is manageable. I prefer to do an hour or 2 each evening during the weekdays which stops me from falling behind. I can even have some weekends off!    

Advice for prospective students: My advice would be to be sure of the course you would like to do and research what job roles and opportunities you will be able to gain from the course. Reaching your dream job needs motivation to keep going. I would also say finding a way to manage your time is key and once you master that you will be fine. Never be afraid to ask for help. The more help you ask for the better your assignments and projects will be. The tutors are waiting to hear from you, they prefer you ask for help than don’t. 

Random fact: I am a mum of three and I have twin baby boys!

Aspirations for after my studies: When I first started the course I wanted to train to be a teacher once I had completed this degree. However the course content has made me look at life in a different way and I would now like to train to be a social worker. I am also working on a website that will build up community support for people suffering with mental health, with community support groups and events. 

Missy - FdA Learning and Education student 

Photo of MissyName: Missy

Degree: FdA Learning and Education

Start date: September 2020

Location: Poole, Dorset


Current job role: I currently work as a midday supervisor in year four at a local first school. Before working here, I had very little experience of working with children in general and in a school setting. It has opened my eyes to how much I really enjoy it and this course will really benefit me for my future.

How did I hear about TLI?: So after having a gap year, I joined up to a degree with the Open University until my mum came how and mentioned The Learning Institute. One of her colleagues was on a course with TLI and said it could be really good for me and that I should take a look. It suits me so much better as there is way more support than I would have got from OU which is very independent. Throughout my time on the course so far I’ve really benefitted from student and tutor input which I might not have gotten on the other degree.

Experience so far: I have loved my experience so far; I have learnt so much already and although I have had my wobbles everyone is so helpful and supportive. Due to the situation, I have not met anyone, but I really feel like I have as we have got to know each other so well. I am probably the biggest stress head you will ever meet and although the assignments are big and challenging, there is so much support and help from TLI. The library is amazing, tutors are indispensable and my other course members are so kind and up for a chat whenever. I started this course will little or no self confidence and have truly seen myself grow, whether this is participating in lecture discussions, asking questions when needed or even just doing that extra bit of research to benefit myself. It has been Amazing.

Advice for prospective students: My initial advice would be to not panic, everything will work out in the end. Also ask for help, it is there, use it, they are amazing! And my other advice would be to enjoy yourself, this is the time you do something different, or the start of a new chapter and you are going to do great.

Random fact: Throughout my life I have enjoyed so many random things and joined so many clubs. Whether that’s tennis, football, cricket, orchestra, musical theatre, dance etc. The one thing I’ve been doing for a long time is singing. I am a grade 8 singer have been singing for 9 years. I love to sing everything and anything music really is a part of me.

Aspirations for after my studies: Once I have finished my two year foundation degree, I will do the extra year top-up degree and finish my studies. If this all goes to plan, I would love to do my teacher training in order to become a primary school teacher for years 1-2. Once I have achieved that the world is my oyster really, whether I stay in primary and move up within the school or whether I go a different route. I am sure even if I plan it now it will not end up the same by the time I get to it.

Nicolle - FdA Learning and Education student 

Picture of Nicolle

Name: Nicolle

Degree: FdA Learning and Education

Start date: September 2019

Location: Poole, Dorset


Current job role: I currently volunteer in a local one form-entry primary school, working for the most part in Key Stage 2. As my history of working within schools was mainly centred around the early years (reception) I thought this course would provide me with the perfect opportunity to get experience within a different environment and year group. I have been at this primary school since September doing 2 sessions per week in a Year 4 class. 

How did I hear about TLI?: I was talking to my son's teaching assistant (who at the time was studying at level 6 with TLI) and she suggested I should attend an open evening. I was explaining to her I would love to train to be a teacher but could not dedicate myself to being on a university campus as it would involve uprooting my family, when I learnt at the open evening how the degree would be set out it seemed (and has proven to be) a brilliant fit.

Experience so far: My experience so far has been a positive one. It is certainly a lot more flexible than I had envisioned. I am able to set aside at least one day per week when my children are at school to study, in addition to the evenings. I must admit there are times where this is more challenging; for example when the children are off school unwell or with the current coronavirus situation, but I have generally found tutors are aware of these challenges and often offer encouragement, support and in some cases flexibility where needed. With regards to my professional life, I would say on a personal level I have felt myself ‘grow’ throughout these first couple of terms and whilst it is difficult to gauge whether I would have been treated differently had I not been reading learning and education, my understanding is I get more responsibilities than other volunteers within my setting. 

Advice for prospective students: If I was going to give advice to a prospective student firstly, I would advise anyone considering returning to study, as I know I was plagued with doubt, that if you want it enough, you can do it! As with anything you do in life you will get out what you put in and with The Learning Institute the support is there from before you have even submitted that application. My second piece of advice to anyone considering studying at degree level is brush up on your organisation skills- you do not have to be the most organised person in the world but it certainly helps if you have other commitments, such as children or work. Having set time for study and knowing your deadlines really helps you to juggle student life with family life. 

Random fact: One of the greatest things about these degrees is I still have time to do the things I enjoy. One of my favourite things to do is attend concerts and music festivals and I am still able to enjoy these. I had been planning to attend Download Festival this Summer (which is unfortunately no longer going ahead) with my 7 year-old son as he wanted to see Iron Maiden live.. hopefully next year!! I also enjoy reading (which has come in very handy for studying) and am able to set time aside each week to read something not related to my studies or work placement.

Aspirations for after my studies: After I have finished my foundation degree, I intend to do the 1 year top-up degree course and also have to retake my science GCSE. I then if successful, plan on taking on the challenge of a year’s teacher training with the hope of becoming a primary school teacher. However, looking beyond that as I would like to think that one day I could be in Senior Leadership within a school or alternately working for an academy trust or for the local authority education board.

Sarah - FdA Learning and Education student 

Photo of SarahName: Sarah

Degree: FdA Learning and Education

Start date: September 2020

Location: Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire


Current job role: Student and full time mummy

How did I hear about TLI?:  A friend started with TLI and recommended that I have a look.

Experience so far: In this crazy year, it’s been amazing to start learning again and to do something for me. The support has been amazing and even though we can’t get together in person, I’ve made some really good friends and supports this year.

The online learning was a bit daunting at first but after the first session it’s become as normal a part of life for me now as it would have been to attend a centre. The tutors that I’ve had have been amazingly supportive and always happy to help and answer questions.

The workload has taken some getting used to, however it is no more than I expected when starting. Good time management has been key to making sure that I have done enough to be happy with the assignments that I’ve submitted.

Overall, these first 6 months have been brilliant.

Advice for prospective students: Don’t underestimate yourself, you can achieve anything you want with the right attitude and support.

Once you start studying then, make time for study but also make time for you. Oh and make good use of the tutors, send as many emails as you like and don’t worry about bothering them they really don’t mind and would rather help than see you struggle (I can say this from personal experience!)

Random fact: I absolutely love music and singing, although I’m not very good at it, when studying I always have music on and will often randomly burst into song, much to my 10 years olds annoyance!

Aspirations for after my studies: Once I have completed my level 5 degree, I intend to do my top-up to level 6 and then I’ll look at my options but most likely I’ll move on to teacher training.

Vicky - FdA Learning and Education student 

Picture of VickyName: Vicky

Degree: FdA Learning and Education

Start date: September 2019

Location: Northolt, London


Current job role: I am currently working in a primary school in West London as an SEN LSA.  I have been at this school for 3 years and I love my job.  I love working with children and seeing them have their ‘lightbulb moments’ when things suddenly click, and they finally make that breakthrough.  I love the challenges that come with working with children with special educational needs and trying to work through them.  Don’t get me wrong there are definitely days which are so much harder than others and I practically run out the door at the end of the day but I wouldn’t want to give up working with children as it is so rewarding and every day is different.

How did I hear about TLI?: I initially heard of The Learning Institute through a friend who was already on the course and who explained about how it would fit in with my work and my family life which sounded amazing.  I went along to an information evening and had all my questions answered so I went home and applied.

Experience so far: This has been such a great experience for me, I have met some amazing people who have been extremely helpful and have made some great friends.  I was initially very unsure how I would cope with work and family life and all the expectations that come with these as well as adding in studying, however, I have found that it works for me.  It took some time to adjust and I did have to be more aware of my time management, but it is definitely possible to juggle everything without feeling like you are going to drop everything.

Advice for prospective students: If you are thinking about returning to study, then I would say do it.  Yes it can be scary and daunting, but as I say to the children I work with in Year 6, everyone feels like that at first but you do get over it, and you will find your feet very quickly and the rewards are so worth it.

Random fact: I love musical theatre, I love watching shows, I love singing show songs and I love performing in shows and over the last 25 years have probably been involved in over 40 shows.  I have performed on various stages, singing, dancing and acting and I love the freedom that it brings to be a little bit different.

Aspirations for after my studies: I am hoping that after I have completed my foundation degree I will complete the 3rd year and achieve a BA honours which will allow me to go on to qualify as a teacher and eventually follow a path that will lead into safeguarding, however I am aware that there are many different opportunities available at the end of the third year.

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