Suzanne, from Dumfries, worked as a nursery practitioner for 16 years and completed her childcare and development training before coming to the University of Cumbria.

“As I had worked in the nursery since I had left school I had got to the stage where although I really did love working with the children, it was becoming very repetitive. I wanted a change, to challenge myself and expand my knowledge.

“I chose University of Cumbria as when I came to visit for the open day it had a very welcoming and relaxed feel," she said. "When talking to the lecturers I could tell they were as passionate about their students’ learning and achieving. Furthermore, the university is located ten minutes from the city centre and the local transport links which is handy for me as a busy Mum who needs to get home as quickly as possible for my children.

"The campus is not an overwhelmingly big campus; it is small and so are the classes. This means I can make bonds with most of my cohort. Lecturers know individual students well and can consider individual learning styles which means they are able to give an enhanced level of personal support.”

Suzanne chose Social Work because, “it offers a very diverse career with a variety of opportunities to work within many different sectors. Whilst working in the nursery I witnessed social workers working with struggling families, who were often discriminated against within society, change their lives for the better and achieve a better quality of life. This was something I feel very passionate about and feel I too can to make a difference to families like this.”

Lecturers know individual students well and can consider individual learning styles which means they are able to give an enhanced level of personal support.

She continues, “I really like how diverse the course is; it covers a range of subjects I am really interested in such as psychology, sociology and law. I also like the way the course it structured as it combines theory with practical skills and allows us to put these into practice in small groups using a variety of methods such case studies, role play and presentations.  These types of tasks are invaluable to myself because as a dyslexic student I learn by experience and practice.

“The staff on the social work course are fantastic and very approachable and help in any way they can even when it’s not their module you are asking for support with. If they can help they do, if not they point you in the right direction. My personal tutor is a great support and has a very calming influence; sometimes when I am in a panic or things are stressful a chat with her manages to help put everything in perspective.   In addition, the learning development staff have been invaluable to me; one in particular who I work with regularly understands my learning style and has supported me through both years, dramatically improving both my organisation and my essay writing skills.”

Social work students attend two placements throughout the course. Suzanne admits, “The University of Cumbria staff worked hard to help me get a placement in my home town so I did not have to travel every day. So far, I have completed my first placement which was in a voluntary agency working with adults with mental health problems. I am looking forward to my next placement in November which will be in the children’s and families team with my local council.” 

Summing up her experience at university, Suzanne says,Attending university has improved my confidence particularly in relation to group tasks and my own abilities to achieve a good standard of work.  Before attending university, I would never put myself forward to lead tasks but now I know I have the skills and knowledge to do so I feel much more confident. In addition, I have recently been accepted and started a job working for my local council supporting adults with complex learning difficulties which is a result of my new found confidence and knowledge I have gained from the course.”

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