From education to employment

#FEsavedME Nursery worker Nikki Barnes enjoys successful return to education

Returning to education after a gap can be a daunting prospect, but one sessional worker at a centre for children and young people in Edinburgh has hailed her own recent training experience a great success, helping her to achieve a qualification essential to her employment.

Nikki Barnes, who is from Niddrie in Edinburgh, did not have positive experience with education and left school without any qualifications. When Tutor/Assessor Nicola Aitken met Nikki, she was keen to start her level 3 SVQ in Social Services, Children and Young People as she knew she needed it for her job, but wasn’t sure about entering “the system”.

From the start Nikki demonstrated excellent practice and showed great awareness of policies and procedures. Described by Nicola as “a hard worker who kept going when many others would have given up”, Nikki was observed carrying out activities and duties within the centre throughout the qualification.

She also attended a weekly tutorial where she received one-to-one support from her assessor, providing her with a quiet space to complete written work, consisting of reflective accounts and assignments.

Nikki would reflect on her practice as a practitioner and researched current theories, legislation and documents relevant to childcare. Nikki found this aspect of her course challenging and experienced some technical issues with her laptop, but she persevered and accelerated her progress by completing her written work by hand.

Nikki herself said: “I never thought I could complete this qualification. I never done school so to achieve this has shown me, with the right support, anything can be achieved.”

Her employer, Susan Heron at The Venchie Project, added: “Nikki needs to believe in her ability more and realise that she can in fact study and complete courses, and to not be afraid to ask for help.” On the day of Nikki’s course completion, Nicola said: “Really proud of this one as it was a real journey we went on and there were tears this afternoon.”

If you have concerns about returning to education and would like to know how the Business Development Unit could support you through a qualification, please contact the team on 01450 361030 or by email

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