After taking a Foundation Degree at Northumberland College, taking a top up degree in Working with Children and Families was a natural step for Jill. "I’d reached the top of my career path. Although I love my current role, I would like to progress in my career and needed a higher level of academic qualification."

Jill has a personal reason for taking part in the course. "My father is in the latter stages of the terrible disease, Alzheimer's. When he was well he was an incredible, intelligent and thought- provoking man. He always encouraged us to ‘use our brains’ and make the most of every opportunity. I think he would be very proud of me for doing this."

As well as completing a qualification, Jill also enjoys a full time career. "I’m Lead Practitioner for Behaviour at Northumberland County Council, responsible for running the Thrive unit within Horton Grange Primary School. This is a large school in one of the most deprived areas in Northumberland and yes, I do like a challenge!"

It has made me a more considered and reflective practitioner and given me a wealth of knowledge to take into my role. I have found a new confidence in myself which has enabled me to challenge the views and opinions of others when I feel it is in the best interest of the children I work with.

It can be difficult balancing her work with her studies. "The most difficult aspect of studying at this level is time management. I have a challenging job and a great family and home life, so fitting in reading, assignment writing and study can sometimes be stressful to manage." It's worth the challenge though. "I love the differentiation of the individual modules, which gives the opportunity to study areas new to me. I also enjoy the interaction between tutors and peers and the fact that everyone brings something different to the group which has a positive impact on the learning."

What will her qualification lead to? "I would like to continue in my role working with children’s behaviour and the underlying causes, but perhaps as a manager within a school or college setting. Longer term, I would like to look at the possibilities of a facility for younger children with emotional, social and behavioural issues, not able to manage in - and often excluded - from mainstream school. Currently there is no provision for these children, whose numbers are sadly increasing."

Edit Page