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Case study: Louise Chalkley, A-level 3 Apprenticeship

Louise ChalkleyIn the following case study, Louise Chalkley writes about her career progression in the early years sector.  She recalls her experiences on an Apprenticeship programme and how she is applying the skills she has learned in her day to day practice.

While working at Oughton Children’s Centre, initially in a domestic role, I decided to apply for a Play Assistant positon as I had seen for myself how this focused on children’s play and promoted interaction. At this point in my career, I did not have any vocational qualifications or GCSEs and I was unsure how my career was progressing.

I was thrilled when I was later approached by the County Manager who encouraged me to apply for a Level 2 Apprenticeship with the Pre-school Learning Alliance. Completing this course of study really ignited a desire to learn and I achieved a portfolio of qualifications in just over the minimum requirement of one year.  These included the following:

  • Cache L2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce,
  • Cache L2 Award in Employment Rights and Responsibility
  • L1 Functional English
  • L1 Functional Mathematics
  • L1 Functional Information & Communication Technology (ICT)

Alongside the Apprenticeship programme, I attended evening classes and also achieved a GCSE in mathematics.

The secret to success is hard focused study alongside professional Assessor support which helps to develop skills; I received positive feedback which is encouraging and I didn’t feel silly about asking questions if I didn’t quite understand.

I think an apprenticeship is the ‘way to go’ as previously I have found tests difficult, particularly when there is a pass or fail element, whereas with an apprenticeship you ‘learn on the way’.

I also appreciate the opportunity to apply learning to practice. I could ask questions to extend my knowledge in my day-to-day practice as I had a mentor in my setting and a visiting assessor who talked through any difficulties.  

The staff in the setting were like a team supporting me and ensured I gained the experience I need to complete the skills elements.  I was initially concerned about Functional Skills assessments but these were carried out in the setting and although under exam conditions, it was a familiar environment and I knew that I could re-sit them if necessary.

The biggest challenges was the distance learning aspect; particularly if I had a question and the answer was not forthcoming straight away and, for example, when researching it is not always possible to find an answer that you know is correct, you need advice or to talk it through.  However, you have to wait for your tutor to respond, but this was always within a couple of days.

Since completing my Level 2 apprenticeship I feel I now consider why children play and what they are learning from their play. I think about what I am planning and what children are learning; I ask myself, do I make a difference?

When planning one of my own groups I look at children’s next steps in more depth, I observe them and take from that what I will set out for their play, to extend their learning.

I am now continuing my studies and I am enrolled as a Level 3 apprentice and beginning to build upon the work I completed previously.

Future career thoughts

I am really keen to complete my Level 3 apprenticeship and I have already passed my English, and working hard on the rest of my knowledge and skills for the vocational aspects.

I would like to continue working in a Children’s Centre as I enjoy providing new opportunities for families. 

I would also look at working in a Pre-school or Nursery with children 3-4 years of age as I benefit from the interaction, and it helps me to support their development, recognise their learning, encourage exploration and respond to new learning opportunities.

Upon achieving my Level 3, I will also have the mathematics and English requirements and feel proud that I will be able to obtain a position where I can be counted in the ratios as a recognised Level 3 practitioner and maybe help to develop the skills of other practitioners. 


Where next?

Alliance training and qualifications courses

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