Nina is the incoming Care Leavers Progression Partnership Officer in East Kent Colleges Group. Earlier this year she took part in the Pathways to Further Education programme in the same college. She graduated from University of Brighton with a Postgraduate Certificate in Inclusive Arts Practice and is currently studying towards being a counsellor.
I loved returning to education in my thirties, and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do so if it wasn’t for the support of the staff at my previous college in Brighton. The truth is that I wanted to go back to college. I missed it!
I shadowed a couple of teachers in the Supported Learning department, and it was very interesting to see the different ways they worked. What I liked most was seeing how they approach challenges, as that was the element I felt I needed the most help with. I wanted to ensure the students were happy, entertained and stimulated – I now realise that there is a lot of planning in that! Honestly, it was so much fun.
I was drawn to the programme as teaching had been something I had considered for a couple of decades, but I did not want to pursue teacher training until I was sure it was a career I wanted. The programme offered me an opportunity to find out more. What I discovered is that there is a variety of learning support and administrative opportunities in the college that I had not noticed before, and through networking with colleagues I discovered the Care Leavers Progression Partnership where I have just been offered a job!
I have a lot more awareness of the amount of work teaching staff do; the planning involved is tremendous. I also found the atmosphere was very different from school; more relaxed but also more forward-facing. As someone who struggled in at school (it was the 1990s), this experience was refreshing and felt more holistic.
Over the next three years I plan to build awareness of the Care Leavers Progression Partnership, become a qualified counsellor and publish a book. Hopefully I’ll get a dog too, because I’d love having a pet. Whatever I do, I know it will be in a college.