FD Children’s Care, Learning and Development Graduate – Jenny

I decided to study the FD CCLD because I realised that gaining further qualifications was the way to progress within childcare, both in my personal development to become a better practitioner and to advance my career. The course was a big step up from my NVQ in terms of individual study and working full time meant that you needed to schedule time to undertake your modules. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the 2 years on the course and I feel that it has made me grow as a person.


Lifelong learning leads to lecturer lifestyle - Nikki Daly

Returning to college as an adult can be a daunting prospect for many, including Nikki Daly, who joined Leeds City College at 25 years old after working as a self-employed property maintenance worker for many years.

Regardless of age, lifelong learning gives adults the chance to transform their lives by embarking on a new career journey, which is exactly what Nikki did when she began studying childcare at college.

A sense of purpose

After first graduating from sixth form many years ago, Nikki struggled to find a fulfilling role that she was passionate about.

“Although being a self-employed property maintenance worker had financial benefits, this was not a role I wanted to pursue long-term. I needed to follow a career path that made me happy, and working with children had always been a desire of mine. 

“I first rejoined education by studying Children and Young People’s Workforce Level 3, and then I progressed onto University Centre Leeds to study a Foundation Degree in Children’s Care, Learning and Development and then subsequently completed my BA (Hons).

“During many of my lessons, I was the only mature learner within the group which was initially daunting. However, my tutors were incredibly supportive, placing me in a group which was suitable and allowed me to reach my full potential. 

“Returning to education after so long did have its hurdles, but once I started completing and submitting assignments, my confidence grew and I began to develop a real passion for my subject. The more I learnt, the happier I felt - so I knew I’d made the right choice.”

8 years in education

Nikki also completed a top-up degree, PGCE and Masters Degree at University Centre Leeds.

“Upon completion of my top-up degree, I developed a keen interest in supporting adult learners, after witnessing first-hand how valuable lifelong learning is. Many of my lecturers commented on how my skills and abilities lended themselves to teaching, therefore recommended a PGCE to help build my career in education.

“Following my PGCE, I gained employment with University Centre Leeds and decided to enrol on my Master’s Degree which shaped me into the higher education lecturer I am today. Not only did it give me a wide understanding of the education sector, but it supported me to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning while supporting adult learners.

“I am immensely proud of all my achievements since rejoining education, especially the ability to adapt to academic work after many years and managing to balance work, study and my social life. 

“The encouragement I received from my tutors really inspired me to aim higher and build a successful career; equipping me with lifelong skills such as problem-solving, team-work and motivation.”


Advocate for adult learning

This year, University Centre Leeds and Leeds City College are involved in the Festival of Learning, a national campaign which celebrates adult learning.

“The Festival of Learning is a great opportunity for adults to build confidence, learn new skills and give them the inspiration to change their career or pursue something different. The events planned will showcase the opportunities available to adult learners across the region, allowing them to increase employability and boost wellbeing. 

“I would recommend lifelong learning to everyone. Through this process, I have not only developed an in-depth understanding of working in the education sector, but have also learnt how to work effectively in a highly motivated team. 

“I currently work at University Centre Leeds within the Teacher Training, Learning and Development department as a Higher Education Lecturer. I feel privileged to be able to motivate and inspire learners to achieve their best possible results while planning and delivering high quality teaching. 

“I am committed to sharing my story to empower adults across the region to engage in lifelong learning. The work I’ve achieved so far makes me incredibly proud, and in the future I’d love to complete a PhD.”

Read more about the Festival of Learning and how to get involved here

Aspiring teacher believes anything is possible – Paige Alderson

As a busy Preschool Assistant, Paige Alderson knows all about the value and challenges of education.

Her drive to keep improving professionally has inspired Paige to embark on her very own educational journey at University Centre Leeds.

She is currently making good progress towards gaining a BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education after successfully completing a Foundation Degree in Supporting Teaching and Learning.

Paige’s accomplishments are all the more impressive considering that she has had to juggle her academic duties with a demanding job, all while overcoming the extra challenge of having dyslexia.

The power of staying focused

She said: “I am a firm believer in maintaining focus, keeping motivated and following your dreams as anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

“Continuing from Level 5 onto Level 6 in my higher education was the best decision I’ve made. I never imagined getting higher grades than I achieved in the previous year, however it is possible and I managed to hit a whole grade band higher!

“This has amazed me as I struggle in education due to having dyslexia. But with confidence and self-belief anything is possible to achieve.”

Self-belief is key

Paige added: “I had the same level of interest in the course this time, the same drive to succeed and the same timescale as before.

“However, by having a different teaching style between live sessions and pre-recorded ones, I was able to make more notes and allow more time to research  terms, articles and resources needed for the duration of the course.

“Being able to go back and access PowerPoint presentations and listen to what the tutor said over and over again boosted my knowledge and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.”


A flourishing student

Higher Education Childcare Programme Manager, Vicki Marshment, has enjoyed watching Paige’s progress.

She said: “Paige has attended every session during the academic year of 2020-21 and has flourished throughout with her assessment grades.

“During all online sessions, Paige is very much involved with class discussions, offering great insight to her peers about her own professional practice working in a preschool with children aged two to four.

“It is always a pleasure to have Paige in the Level 6 sessions and we as a team are very much looking forward to seeing her achieve the overall qualification in the next academic year.”

The BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education is offered by University Centre Leeds as a ‘top-up’ qualification for those who have completed a foundation degree.

The course includes a dissertation which focuses on each student’s particular area of interest.

For more details about the courses on offer visit University Centre Leeds .

Taking learning support to a higher level - Kelly Langton

The country was only weeks away from going into its first lockdown when Learning Support Assistant Kelly Langton gave birth to her third child.

As if that joyful event didn’t leave her busy enough, Kelly was also completing Level 5 of her Foundation Degree in Supporting Teaching and Learning, at University Centre Leeds, at the time.

Thanks to her dedication and willingness to adapt she nevertheless went on to complete that course later in 2020: and is now working to achieve a BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education.

Kelly, who works at a Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC), only has her dissertation left to complete her BA and her tutors couldn’t be more proud of her.


HE Childcare Programme Manager Vicki Marshment said: “In her second year Kelly became pregnant with her third child and she worried that her pregnancy would leave her behind with her work.

“But since lockdown in March, 2020 she has worked hard at home despite home-schooling two children and taking care of a newborn. She fully embraced online learning and made use of every resource available to her to get through her foundation degree.”

Kelly had some serious doubts about proceeding with the BA, but her tutors managed to allay those fears and give her the self-belief she needed.


Vicki said: “Kelly was worried about leaving her daughter so young and struggling with her confidence, she did not feel she was able to complete a level 6 course.

“However the lockdown meant that teaching was delivered online and Kelly yet again fully utilised the online resources and has never missed a session.

“Her confidence has grown this year and despite her apprehensions she pushed herself out of her comfort zone and is achieving at a high level. Kelly is an amazing student and we are ever so proud of her brilliant progress this year.”



Kelly’s work - she is studying for her BA part-time - involves supporting children and young people, aged 2-19, who have Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

She said: “Within my current role I have continued to try and improve myself which is why I chose to complete the Foundation degree.

“I never thought I had the ability to go any further until I went to the progression meeting, it made me think that I was able to continue with my education and complete the BA (Hons) in Children and Young People’s Care and Education.

“I have now completed year one of the 18 months and only have my dissertation to complete to gain my degree qualification. Every time I receive a result I am completely shocked at how far I have come and I have begun to have confidence in my abilities.”


Kelly added: “I am now determined to gain a high score for my dissertation to gain the best graded degree that I can. I would not have got this far without the support and encouragement from my tutors and a friend, who has been proofreading my work since level 5.”

Kelly has been nominated for a Star Award, by Vicki and HE Lecturer Nikki Daly, in recognition of her hard work and determination to overcome challenges.

To find out more about the courses on offer at University Centre Leeds click here.