From education to employment

Adult learner success at London South East Colleges

London South East Colleges student, Catherine Tolfrey (49) from Bromley, has had two different careers already but neither compares to the one she is pursuing right now.

Catherine has just enrolled for her second year of the Childhood Studies with SEN (Special Educational Needs) Foundation Degree validated by Canterbury Christ Church University. This was made possible by taking on both English and maths at GCSE level whilst also studying for her first-year exam units of which she scored a complete set of distinction grades.

Last week, Catherine dropped by the College to pick up her GCSEs and discovered she had done remarkably well in them too. For her maths, she achieved a grade 5 (old grade C+) and for her English Language, she received a grade 9 (old grade A*).

Further to this, Catherine works full-time as a progress partner in a specialist unit for children with social, emotional and mental health needs at the Bromley Beacon Academy in Orpington. She also cares and looks after her young family. Needless to say, she is a very busy lady indeed.

Next week, it’s back to the grind as she embarks on another year of hard study, project work and exam revision for her degree whilst juggling her duties at work and as a mum.

Undaunted by the challenge, Catherine says: “When I began working at the Academy, I knew I had found a very meaningful job that gave me lots of satisfaction. I love the children I work with and want to inspire them to achieve highly and lead very fulfilling lives. 

“Firstly, I did my research into the qualifications I would need to acquire to lead me to my dream job as a specialist literacy intervention teacher. It meant being educated to degree level in a childhood and SEN related subject, and to qualify for that, I would need to hold good GCSE grades in the core subjects of English and maths.

“When I told my friends, I was going to study for all three courses at the same time, they thought I’d gone mad. I planned my studies and worked out a rota for myself. I was helped by my tutors and given lots of study support and good advice. I’m so glad now that I went for it and followed my dream. I’m not too far away from achieving it in full.

“Most of the skills I have picked up on my degree course have been useful to me at work. In fact, after attending my first full week of the course, I was back in the classroom applying the techniques I’d learned in lesson one and they worked beautifully. Each week I learn something new and each week I increase my confidence levels.

“The boost I have received this year at London South East Colleges and at work has reignited my ambitions and my enthusiasm for life. I would recommend it to anyone.”


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