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The Learning Institute

Life after TLI - Samantha's story

Samantha graduated in 2018. Here, she tells us about studying with The Learning Institute, and what happened next.

Name: Samantha

Course: FdA Teaching and Learning, BA (Hons) Professional Practice

Year of graduation: 2018

How did you find the process of returning to education/study?

At first, it was a little daunting - I had not studied for twenty years and my A-level results were poor resulting from my circumstances at the time. They were both financial and emotional concerns, I just wasn’t ready to go to university. Starting the degree with help from my wonderful tutor Annie really built my confidence. It is amazing how far you come from the nervous first lectures. The course is very reflective in nature and when I look at my finished assignments, I was always in awe of myself and I often use to think "How did I do that?!".

The other people on the course were really understanding and came to do their degree locally for many reasons. Some people wanted to keep university costs down so stayed close to home, some like me, were mature students with kids, jobs and mortgages so moving away wasn’t an option. We were a great little community, the group encouraged each other through the tough times and the tutors were fantastic both in pastoral support and academic guidance. I am really proud of all the students and what we achieved during our time together.


What did you enjoy most about studying for your degree?

I found the subjects covered in the degree really interesting, there were opportunities to specialise on some modules and it was surprising how diverse our assignment titles were. All of the students had different ambitions, to perhaps gain a management position in a nursery, to specialise in a job within a school, to start a new career or train as a teacher like me. But, if I really wanted it I had to push myself and redo my maths GCSE - I hated maths and I wasn’t particularly good at it but if I could gain a degree I could do anything!

My school that I worked for as a teaching assistant supported me and allowed me to join the sixth form retake classes. It was tough but I scraped that old C allowing me to apply for teaching. It was tough studying, I had to manage my time very carefully and I had to prioritise and stay organised. More importantly I had to be open to change, that I would grow and adapt in many ways.


How has life changed since you graduated?

After completing some subject knowledge enhancement courses online and a post graduate certificate in education at Exeter University, I went on to become a teacher of Religious Education in a local secondary school. At the moment I am just finishing my NQT year and in September I have a new part time position, again teaching RE but with the addition of A-level Psychology. At the moment it seems a bit daunting but I love learning new things and enjoy a challenge. 

I also work for Exeter University as a research assistant on articles written for a national journal for RE.


What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about going back to education? 

If you bring the enthusiasm and curiosity for learning, The Learning Institute will support and help you to navigate through everything right through to graduation and what a magical day it is... it could be you!