Telford College’s higher education students are combining their studies with roles as key workers, helping communities through the Covid-19 crisis.
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They include foundation degree student Jason Poole from Madeley, and Kelly Nicholls from Trench who is on one of the college’s Access to Higher Education diploma courses.
Jason is a support worker at Hft Shropshire and Staffordshire – a charity supporting people with learning disabilities – while Kelly is a healthcare assistant on the oncology ward at the Princess Royal Hospital.
Kelly, who is combining her studies and work with the role of a young mother, said: “I have received a fantastic amount of support from my tutors and fellow students.
“I have found the college environment extremely useful. The access course offers a lot of flexibility, as I’m able to achieve the qualifications needed, whilst still working.
“Being a mother alongside working and studying has had its challenging moments. What has helped me balance it all is having a planned time of studying – which for me was at night once the children were asleep.
“Childcare during college hasn’t been a problem, as my lessons fit in around school time.”
Kelly has been offered a place at the University of Wolverhampton to study adult nursing at the Telford campus for September. “I’m looking forward to getting started,” she said.
Jason, who is hoping to go into management and potentially also lecturing roles in future, said: “I have found studying the Covid-19 pandemic quite challenging at times, but on the other hand, with the support of my superb tutors; it has been fun.
“I think the key is to be organised and more motivated in yourself, and doing the work in bite size chunks instead of trying to do the work all at once.
“This gives a better standard of work output, reduces stress levels, and gives you more time to find more resources and references.”
He added: “I chose to study the foundation degree at Telford College to augment my qualifications in health and social care to management level, and progress to a role further up the ladder.
“Since the foundation degree is a level five qualification, it will definitely assist me to progress. My plan is to undertake the top-up year and then progress to doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.
“This will allow me to teach health and social care to post-compulsory education students as a college lecturer.”
Caroline Bastow learner manager for higher education and access at Telford College, said: “We want to celebrate and recognise our students, like Kelly and Jason, who are balancing their academic studies with key worker roles.
“Not only are they gaining priceless experience for their future careers, but they are doing an amazing job of providing a vital service to the community when they need it most.
“We have continued to deliver our courses online throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, and our tutors have been amazing – continuing to support students on a one-to-one basis.”
Telford College offers higher education courses in computing, engineering, health and social care, music, and early years.
The college is holding a ‘virtual’ open event on June 3, when Caroline and the rest of the team will be providing more information about new courses. To register, see www.telfordcollege.ac.uk/open-events.