"Although the thought of studying again after a break of over 25 years was daunting, it was just the challenge I needed"
I left school at 16 and went straight into work; expectations to continue studying were very low at that time and going straight to work was the norm. Throughout my early career, I always regarded obtaining a degree as unattainable and often wondered how good it would be to achieve one. After taking a break from work to have a family, I started childminding and then worked in a pre-school. I then felt the light bulb turn on in my head, although the thought of studying again after a break of over 25 years was daunting, it was just the challenge I needed. It was then I started the Foundation Degree in Early Years. I thought the foundation degree would be enough but I was inspired to complete the third year of BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and EYPS (Early Years Professional Status) top-up, qualifying with a 2:1.
Whilst studying at Manchester Met, I decided to buy my own pre-school that was originally struggling to remain sustainable. I had to ‘hit the ground running’, keeping the existing staff and recruiting new members, as well as marketing the business for new customers and ensuring existing parents would stay on with us. Whilst putting all the necessary paperwork in place to meet with statutory requirements, I was able to raise the number of children attending to ensure a sustainable future for the pre-school. I have been able to use the knowledge gained from completing my degree to appraise, resource and implement new systems to provide a stimulating, caring and vibrant environment for young children in order for them to develop and learn.
As owner and manager, it is important for me to build strong and trusting relationships with parents, children and staff. Under my leadership, staff are committed to continuing professional development and use their knowledge and skills to the best of their ability through mentoring. It is important for me to keep up-to-date with practice, which means being responsible for my own group of key children, as well as overseeing the learning and development of all the children.
Managing the pre-school entails liaising with local schools, outside agencies and seeking extra support for those children and families who may need it. As well as the obvious keeping track of finances, staffing, marketing and all other administrative tasks!
After a long break from education running a home and family, I consider setting up a thriving and successful business a great personal achievement.
Be willing to have a go and have a positive, friendly attitude to others. Arrive on time, looking motivated and ready for work. Be willing to take on extra tasks to gain brownie points (and more knowledge along the way!).
I would say initially my Foundation Degree tutor Jackie Braithwaite – such a great source of inspiration, motivation and encouragement to achieve my goal. When times were hard, visualising myself achieving my dream of a degree and in my cap and gown made it all worthwhile – I did it in the end.
Manchester Met showed me my dream could become a reality.