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A Fine Pe-degree of Staff at Bluecoat Primary!

You often read about schools celebrating the achievements of their pupils but on this occasion it is the support staff at Bluecoat C of E Primary stealing the limelight by setting a shining example of lifelong learning.

In September 2014, a group of Teaching Assistants and parent volunteers embarked on their journey towards a Foundation Degree in Teaching and Learning.  Working with The University of Worcester, in partnership with The Learning Institute, the aim of the degree was to provide students with a knowledge base that will enable them to reflect on the skills they need to be effective practitioners in an educational setting.

This was a huge undertaking with most of them juggling families, work life and their studies over the past two years, as well as completing a Maths GCSE in some cases!  At times it seemed like an impossible challenge.  However, perseverance prevailed and the challenges were overcome.

Sam Stocker said “we look forward to implementing our newly gained knowledge and skills in the promotion of improved learning experiences for Bluecoat children.”

Some of the cohort have now moved on to pastures new but all of them were successful, so we would like to congratulate them all on this significant achievement – Sam Stocker, Caroline Barnes, Marie Dayment, Julie Turner, Nicky Hedden, Paula Hickford, Georgette King, Kim Stone, Lindsay Mills, Joanne Terry, Gemma Vaggers, Louise Martin, and from Little Frogs Pre-School – Charlene Hoare and Brittany Nudds.

Time for a well-earned rest? Certainly not! The majority of the cohort are continuing onto their third year to secure a BA(Hons) Degree in Professional Practice and further members of staff and parent volunteers are now studying for their Foundation Degree making Bluecoat C of E Primary’s support staff one of the best educated and skilled in the area.

Paula Hickford commented “The last two years have been challenging. Juggling a full time job, a family and studies has been hard work however I feel it has been worthwhile. I have grown not only as a practitioner but also personally. I feel proud of my achievements and hope to have shown my three daughters that you are never too old to learn.  When I first embarked on the degree I was worried but excited. I was completely out of my comfort zone however looked forward to learning new knowledge. When doing the degree we had to do research in many different areas for different modules. The research undertaken varied from interviews, questionnaires and observations to literature reviews and presentations. All newly learnt skills. The last two years has given me self belief and the courage to do my third year.”

Nicky Hedden commented “My perspective, as the oldest student of the Torrington cohort, is you’re never too old to begin a new venture, it’s never too late to start studying a subject that interests you and learning is not just for children – it’s for everyone, every age and every ability. It may be challenging at first to wake up those dormant brain cells but with excellent tutors, support from your peers, encouragement from your family and courage from yourself to let go of the fear of failure, you can discover how rewarding and empowering learning can be.”

Gemma Vaggers added “My interest in working with children was spiked by having two children with additional needs and seeing what a difference a good support staff can make. I wanted to be able to make that difference with children I work with. I started the degree as a parent volunteer and by the time I graduated I had been taken on by Bluecoat primary school. It has been a challenge to juggle work and family around study but I feel a great sense of achievement and am well placed to go on to complete the third year.”