Russell Moore (40) a HNC Childhood Practice student from Dunblane is loving life preparing for a career in childcare.
He said: “I moved to Dunblane in September 2017 and my son started at his local nursery in August 2018. This prompted me to look for work or study in the local area. I looked up Forth Valley College and saw they offered the HNC course I was interested in so I dropped in to enquire.
“I hadn’t even made an appointment, I thought I might get some course details. I met Jeanette McCulloch and within a couple of hours I was convinced that studying at FVC would be the right thing to do. I completed the application soon afterwards and gained a place on the course. I had previously studied a BA in Primary Education Studies and the nursery placement was my favourite part of that course, so studying a nursery-specific qualification was the right choice for me.
“I chose childcare as a career because I have worked in education since 2003 and had experience of many ages and stages of education. I have worked in primary, ASN secondary, sports coaching, literacy projects and even volunteered teaching English in a German kindergarten. Throughout all of these experiences I have always been drawn back to the initial stages of education – working with our youngest learners. The holistic, child-led and play-based nature of modern early education sums up everything I enjoy about working with young learners.
“The FVC Stirling Campus is a spectacular location. From the cafeteria or gym you can see the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle. The whole building feels spacious and has a real buzz around it. There is a lot of community activity in the common areas – art galleries, student support, career fairs, LGBT and mental/physical health awareness, student projects, the list goes on. Everything is well advertised and you always feel that something interesting is happening.
“The lecturers, in my experience, have been supportive, knowledgeable and professional. They are available and provide one-to-one support and advice if you need it. There are many teaching styles and the onus is on you to complete the work, but they really do as much as they can to accommodate and help you.
“Studying at the college has been beneficial in giving me an insight into early education and childcare. I knew I was interested in this area of education from my previous experience and the structure of the course - two days in college and two days on placement - means that you can put theory into practice on a week-to-week basis.
“This means that I was able to study or research something in an academic sense (e.g. risky play and risk assessment) then put it into practice with learners in a relatively short period of time. This kept the course feeling vibrant and helped me connect the dots between theory and practice.
“I plan to work in early education and find permanent employment through phases two and three of the new extended year initiatives. I have also discussed the potential for further study and promotion with my tutors. This qualification, and the experience gained through working in early education, should help me on an exciting and progressive career path.
“I have found that children respond really well to a range of experiences in the early years. Being able to provide interesting and varied experiences is a massive motivator for me. Children enjoy building things, trying tools, being outdoors, climbing, taking risks, showing you what they can do – all of the feelings you remember from being young yourself. Men make up a small percentage of the workforce, so almost by default you are creating a new and varied context for young learners to understand the world. It is a very rewarding and valuable career to be a part of.
“My first response would be as a father, if I was to give any advice to other men thinking about childcare as a career. My son is about to start primary school and I am reflecting on the progress he has made through the nursery years. Watching him as he has grown and prepared for the next step in his education makes me feel very proud. I’m sure many people already understand that feeling, and I have a massive debt of thanks to nursery practitioners for the years of education he has had.
“If you enjoy an active career which is different from one day to the next then early education is an excellent choice. The children always appreciate the attention and guidance you can provide and they will give you everything they have in return. It is a great way to spend your time and there is a good chance you will laugh every day.
“I would recommend FVC in particular as they were welcoming to me from the minute I arrived. They made a huge effort to inform and support me in my application and the structure of their summer preparatory work means you should hit the ground running when term starts. Studying in the college is a genuine pleasure and the staff in every department has been superb (the Stirling campus library gets a special mention for its accessibility, value and range of services).
“The best bit for me is that it has been great to work alongside some wonderfully talented students who have made me, as a mature student, feel motivated to retrain alongside them as they enter further education for the first time. It is a very inclusive environment.”