From education to employment

Demanding care job, seven children – and now study for university

WHEN it comes to work-life balance, Clare Barnett knows more than most about juggling family with a career.

A mother of seven, she also holds down a challenging job in care but, despite these huge demands on her life, she’s embarking on a new adventure – a place at university so she can achieve her goal of a nursing degree.

Clare, 34, is climbing the ladder to her ambition with an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma, studying online with Progress to Excellence Ltd. It’s a qualification which prepares for study at degree level for those want to go to university but left school without passing the necessary exams.

Clare, whose children range in age from one year to 12, explained: “I’m one of those people who loves having a big family and my job as a care worker at a mental health hospital is important to me.

“But I always knew there was something inside me telling me that I needed to get a good career for myself.

“When I left school, I went straight into routine jobs then my family started to grow and priorities changed. Now it’s time to put the focus on achieving my university goal.”

Clare started a college course in Solihull in 2016 but had to give it up when her seventh child was born. It was then that a friend told her about the Progress to Excellence Ltd online Access to HE Diploma – and the door to her nursing ambition flew open.

Now Clare’s day revolves around her job at Brooklands Hospital in Marston Green, West Midlands, her children and her studies.

She said: “I work 26 hours a week from 8.30am to 2.30pm so a typical day is something like getting everyone ready in the morning, school run, job at the hospital, quality family time in the evening and then down to studying.

“My friends think I’m really mad. I’m one of those people who gets bored easily though and I constantly need fresh challenges. 

“The more I do, the more I feel I have the capacity to take on extra tasks.”

Clare finds the online study perfect for her lifestyle as its flexibility means she can complete assignments when the children have a daytime nap or are in bed, or on her Wednesday off and at weekends.

Supporting her 100 per cent is her husband Ben who is looking forward to the day when Clare gets her cap and gown at her degree ceremony.

She added: “He’s an incredible force in my life and supports me every step of the way. He’s a lorry driver so he works long hours and is away a lot – but I couldn’t do this without him.

“He’s really proud of what I do and what I intend to achieve. He tells me: ‘You can pull it off – you always do!’ My life is hectic but one thing is plain – if I can do something as amazing as this, then I’m certain others can. 

 “Working as I do now in a mental health hospital is a challenging job but will be even more rewarding when I begin work there as a fully qualified nurse.”

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