Student: Louise Whitfield
College: Uxbridge College
T Level: Education and Childcare
Study period: 2020-2022
I decided to study the T Level after it was recommended by my tutor at Level 2, after I completed the NCFE/CACHE Level 2 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner. As I was motivated and had achieved good results, it made sense to progress to the next level. T Levels looked quite interesting – I would say they are good because of the longer placement - and are also accepted by the majority of UK universities. Personally, I also prefer exams due to having plenty of time to prepare beforehand, and I was very happy with how I did.
Even though the two years of our course was mainly during lockdown, I completed most of my placement at Stanhope Primary School in Greenford on site - they believed children learned better in person, and did everything they could to stay open. I was also able to work with a classmate in the second year on the placement, which was really nice. T Level students have to complete a minimum of 415 hours but I did 700 hours. I think it is important for children to see you regularly, so they can build a solid relationship, and I felt it would show motivation to employers in the future.
I have got ADHD and my placement was very accepting and open about it, and made all the right accommodations, such as giving me a quiet place without interruptions when I needed it. In some ways it has been helpful to have lived experience of ADHD - my classmates asked about it which helped them learn, and it is also very useful to know about when you are working with children.
My tutors at Uxbridge College have been supportive and kind - they give everyone the right support and guidance, depending on their different needs, and are very accepting of people. My tutors gave me confidence - and a little push at times, which was what I needed – and I am really grateful to them for all the support they have given me.
It has been a really good experience being at college - I would do it again if I could! I am quite sad about finishing, as being at college has helped me become who I am today.
The most interesting part of the course for me has been child observation. There are a lot of areas of observation, for instance observing social or physical activity, where you find out what the child can do and how they are developing. It is also a very creative job at times – for instance I could not find the right size dominos for an activity, so I made a set myself out of paper. The hardest part for me has been learning all the guidance, such as safeguarding. There are a lot of policies and a lot to remember.
Whilst I have chosen to apply for a job, it is good to know T Levels can provide a route to university if I do change my mind. The course gives you many opportunities to go different ways, and you are given support for whichever one you choose.