I come from a Gypsy Traveller background and although my initial education was a positive one, I did lack confidence and had to focus on looking after my disabled brother. So, I left school with low GCSE grades and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I had a second chance at education. I took the opportunity of supporting Gypsy Traveller pupils in a secondary school, all of the staff were very supportive and they saw potential in me encouraged me to complete a NVQ Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification. I was pregnant with my daughter Olivia at the time of completing the qualification.
I guess my opportunities of getting back into learning fully took off when I joined adult learning classes at Monkton Priory Community School, studying during the evenings. My first GCSE was in English, I got a B grade and from then on, I was hooked on learning!
My next step was a degree in Inclusive Studies in Education. I didn’t think I was capable to complete such a high qualification, but I did and graduated with 1st Class Honours. I took a year out and then decided I wanted to specifically train in Additional Learning Needs, as this fits the career path I now have. I completed a Post Graduate Certificate for Additional Learning Needs which I passed with Distinction. I’ve been working in this profession for 18 years now and I’ve had the opportunity to progress. I’m currently working as an Access Learning Manager in a school where I’m also Head of House, encouraging 200 plus pupils to succeed under my mentoring role. I share this role with a colleague, and I love the work.
Through my love of learning I was nominated for an Inspire! Award which I won in 2016. Since winning this award it has opened many doors to opportunities. I’ve been encouraged by many special people throughout my learning journey and I’ve taken the role of encouraging people to go back into further education in my community.
If you are thinking about your next steps, I’d recommend looking at what is going on in your local community – take a friend if you are a little apprehensive. Adult learning has a lot to offer. I’m proof that anyone can succeed if you only believe in yourself. Everybody is in the same boat, give it ago, because who knows where it may lead.