“The lecturers’ enthusiasm for their subject is infectious and it can’t help but rub off on you, which you then take with you on placement. This then has a really positive effect on your work with the children. At the end of a day, even though I was in pain and physically exhausted, mentally I was buzzing.”
“I’ve just graduated with a degree in Early Years Education from the University of Bedfordshire and I’m now applying to do my PGCE there as well, so that I can become a qualified primary school teacher. However, my route to this career has been far from straight-forward.
“I started back at university at the age of 41 after leaving school at 16 to pursue a career in professional ice hockey, both playing and coaching. I had a career that spanned for 23 years, playing for several teams across the UK and even playing in Finland, but a severe recurrence of an old injury left me with a condition called Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) and I had to give it up. I am now registered disabled. As well as ice hockey, I was also an FA qualified coach, so sport has always been a big part of my life, both personally and professionally.
“After my injury I had to completely revaluate my life and career. I’d spent nearly 25 years playing or coaching very physical sports at a high level and now I couldn’t do it anymore, so I decided to go back to education.
“People think the job of teaching young children is very different from playing professional sport and they often ask why I chose such a profession. To a point they’re right, but I chose teaching because of the coaching aspect of sports. When I was coaching, one part of it was with young adults and young children and I really enjoyed it.
“One of the parents I knew from coaching worked in education and said I had an affinity for it and natural ability of working with children. So when I was revaluating my choices, I knew it was something I could do, but more importantly something I wanted to do. When I met the lecturers from the University I knew they shared my passion for the work.
“The lecturers’ enthusiasm for their subject is infectious and it can’t help but rub off on you, which you then take with you on placement. This then has a really positive effect on your work with the children. At the end of a day on placement, even though I was in pain and physically exhausted because of my condition, mentally I was buzzing and I couldn’t wait for the next day. That is something that I only got from my time at the University and was one of the highlights of my times there.
“The University has also been great supporting me through my studies with my condition. All the staff and lecturers have been extremely understanding and this contributed greatly to me getting my degree. Since coming to Bedfordshire, I have also played an active part in campus life. I have been a student ambassador, a course rep, and a PAL Leader, helping new students adjust to university life. All this comes from my course giving me the confidence to get involved, and I have made some great friends.
My advice to anyone thinking of going to University, whether they’re at the start of their career or re-training like me, is to simply go and do it.”