A change of direction
Having always been the creative type, Jackie thought it was time she allowed that part of her personality to shine. So, she set up her own florist’s, getting busy with bouquets for over 15 years. For a long time, her venture thrived. But, eventually business began to suffer as the economy slowed down, but Jackie wasn’t ready to do the same. So, she started to look for her next challenge.
She’d always found joy in watching her grandchildren learn and grow, and soon enough, her mind was made up: she wanted to become a teaching assistant. She completed a level two qualification, quickly followed by a level three: Jackie was now fully qualified. Following this, she worked providing 1:1 support for a child with special educational needs, before securing a role at Liverpool College’s preparatory school.
Finding that she absolutely loved her role, she decided to challenge herself further and enrolled on our Level 4 Certificate for the Advanced Practitioner in Schools and Colleges, advancing her leadership skills, and allowing her to work in the classroom unsupervised. Incredibly, she also completed a forest school practitioner qualification at the same time; a programme through which students visit natural spaces to learn social, personal, and technical skills.
More than just a tutor
Although she was excelling in her new role, studying wasn’t all plain sailing for Jackie. “Having never studied further than my CSE exams back in 1984,” she says, “Harvard referencing was a new phenomenon to me! I’m also a very emotive person, so I tend to write as I speak. Learning to control the emotional side of my writing and present my passions in a more formal way was a challenge.”
“Although I struggled at first, my tutor, Sarah Connell, was really helpful. Anything I didn’t understand, she took the time to break down for me. In fact, over time, Sarah and I became friends – we’d often have threads of emails discussing holidays, children, half-term plans, and all manner of other topics! The support and guidance I received every step of the way has been truly excellent.”
A love for learning
Like many who choose to take the plunge with distance learning later in life, Jackie found she loved the challenges her course presented, as well as the new knowledge she was gaining. “I particularly enjoyed learning about children’s mental health and wellbeing, which was covered in unit two,” she explains, “it was great to discover some of the ways I could help children to build resilience, as well as support the families of children who are going through a hard time. For me, it’s all about the kids; the children I work with are loved, supported, and educated to the best of my ability.”
And what’s more, our distance learning course fit in with her lifestyle perfectly: “I needed a study method that fit in with my family routine. My children are all grown up now, and although they might not need me as much as they did when they were little, I’m still mum, and I still want to be there for them.”
So what advice would Jackie give to someone else considering taking on a distance learning course in their 50s? “Do it! It doesn’t matter how old you are. If there’s a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about, or a career avenue you’d like to explore, then go for it – you’ll probably surprise yourself. Learning is a wonderful thing at any age, and can only improve your life.”
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