Ashleigh Cassidy undertook a Foundation Degree and the BA(Hons) Top Up in Early Childhood Studies at Fareham College, completing her courses in the summer of 2022 and achieving an incredible First Class Honours!
We caught up with her to discuss her plans moving forward and the reason she decided to pursue a higher education course.
“I have always had an interest in Health, Social Care and Early Years. I previously studied the subject when I went to college at 16 and did really well. Following that course, I fell into full time employment; it was a good job but not one I was passionate about, and I had always wanted to achieve a higher education qualification, with a specific focus on childhood and early years.
When looking for a higher education course, it was vital that the study pattern fit around my home life. The timings of the Fareham College course were ideal; one day a week, 9:30am-2:30pm which meant I could accommodate the school run before and after class.
At the beginning of the foundation degree, I was surprised by the intensity of the study programme, and this was quite overwhelming. However, I have always pushed myself and was confident I had the skills to achieve. My ambition was to achieve a first, so I put in a lot of additional hours and home working to support this. I always knew when embarking on the Foundation Degree I wanted to ‘top-up’ to achieve my full BA(Hons) as the undergraduate degree opens up a lot of opportunities.
Alongside the course, I volunteered in an infant school, gaining experience working with children. This was incredibly inciteful, with everyone at the practice welcoming me. Through this experience, I determined that teaching was not my desired route. I am now considering a career in children’s hospice care, perhaps from an emotional care and outreach perspective, working with children who have life-limiting conditions.
For my dissertation, I explored the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the social and emotional wellbeing and development of infant-aged children. I made a deliberate decision to make my dissertation exploratory as I still believe it is too early to wholly identify the full impact of the pandemic and to make recommendations for overcoming these symptoms. I still found this to be a fascinating topic; I drew on my experience in a practical setting to highlight tactics that had worked well and what could be implemented should a similar situation arise in the future, and I also drew on feedback from practitioners and parents; which could, interestingly, often be completely contrasting.
The tutors on the course have been incredibly helpful. There is a very strong personalised approach to teaching and support for us learners. I have had conversations with my tutors, specifically about my passions, to discuss what I could go onto next; these conversations have really supported me in making the decisions I have.
I would definitely recommend this course to other people; I think it is fantastic. Everyone is very respectful and engaged, and we were encouraged to share our views on the current childcare industry, be they positive or negative, promoting a healthy debate. The lecturers are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive, and practically speaking, it is a very accessible course and well suited to mature students or those with a family. The breadth and depth of concepts and topics covered are great and provided us with a really comprehensive understanding of the variety of situations you may encounter in practice.”
Do you aspire to work with children and young people or achieve a higher education qualification?
Find out more and secure your place by visiting Fareham.ac.uk/higher-education