Life for Nathalie Hicks has recently been about making moves. She’s moved from Nottingham to Walsall and moved from working as an exams officer to becoming a learning facilitator at Walsall College.
The change in job and change in working environment inspired her to make another move into the world of distance learning. She has so far completed a Level 2 in Principles of Customer Service and a Level 2 in Understanding Specific Learning Difficulties.
“Studying these qualifications helped me be more job-ready,” said Nathalie. “I’d never worked this closely with students before, especially ones with learning difficulties and disabilities. I was used to coordinating exam arrangements for students and never really seeing them again. Now that I’m with the same students more often, I wanted to be sure my support was effective.”
The distance learning study route was one that Nathalie found easier to manage that she expected.
“I haven’t studied since I was 18 so I thought I might struggle,” she said. “Actually, everything was set out really well. With a Distance Learning course, you can go at your own pace, going through the work as and when you’re able to. There are deadlines to meet but you get these in plenty of time.”
Nathalie’s desire to expand her knowledge of student needs has led her to moving on to another stage of learning – a Level 3 in Understanding Autism Awareness – while making use of an Advanced Learner Loan to help with course funding.
“I wasn’t aware the learner loan existed,” she said. “It’s a useful way to study and add to your qualifications while still being able to manage your finances.”
Nathalie has been spurred on to further study through her role in delivering a Reading Support initiative for 14-16 year-olds on a Achieving Together programme at the college and for supported learning students, among others.
“The Reading Support programme is really important to me,” Nathalie added. “It impacts on the literacy skills these students will take forward in life.
“My qualifications have helped me pick up on learner behaviours and anticipate how individuals might respond to the instructions and ideas I put to them when I’m working with them. It’s a chance for me to use my knowledge to support their needs in my own way, such as choosing what books they might want to read or giving them specific paper to read and write from.”
Nathalie continued: “It’s rewarding when you see students make progress; using phonics and graphemes for example and knowing that they will be taking what they’ve learned with me over into their mainstream lessons.
“And it feels great when teachers feedback to me how well the students are doing.
“I just want to improve and help as many students as possible – enabling them achieve their potential.”