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Keira Mills

Level 3 Childcare and Education

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Keira Mills

At first, I wasn't sure about going into a working nursery but the children, the teachers and the nursery support staff are all so lovely. From juggling nursery work and college work it has also improved my time management skills too.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?

My name is Keira Mills, I’m 17 years old, and I (think I) was born in Gateshead but I’ve lived in Blaydon area all my life. I moved to a new house 10 years ago and I love it! All my friends are nearby and I get to see them all the time now, so it’s nice to be able to see them quite often.


How did you hear about Newcastle College? Did you attend an Open Day prior to starting at the College? If so, did you find it useful?

Basically, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I’ve always enjoyed playing with teddies when I was little, pretending I was teaching them. My friends and I would pretend to be teachers as well – we’d always take my mam’s high heels and pretend we were teachers. I think it was just wanting to give children the same experiences I had in primary school – I really enjoyed my time there, I didn’t have any bad experiences with teachers, so that’s probably influenced me into wanting to become a teacher. I had no negative experiences in school, so I never had a reason not to like it. All my teachers were really lovely as well, so I always wanted to be like them.

I didn’t come to a Newcastle College Open Day. I went to an Open Day at Newcastle Sixth Form College, but only two days into the course I decided that it just wasn’t for me, so instead I came here during the Open Event week. I went up to the front desk and asked if they were still accepting applications, and thankfully the Childcare team were more than happy to take me on! They were all really supportive, which helped confirm for me that I needed to be at Newcastle College to study in the way I wanted to learn.


What made you decide to come to the college and enrol on the course you selected?

I heard about it over the years as I was growing up. We would drive past it all the time, and we’d park in the Scotswood Road car park when we used to go to the football, so I always knew it was here. I did consider it as one of my options at first, but I tried Sixth Form instead, but I realised it wasn’t for me – all the content, doing exams, I much prefer coursework because I did Child Development in school, which was all coursework and essays rather than timed written exams.


How would you describe the advice and support you received from college and your tutors? Have you had any support for our Central Support Team – Pastoral support?

Studying at Newcastle College was much easier for me. I don’t like being stressed out, otherwise I’m just upset all the time, whereas when I’m doing assignments I can take my time a bit more, read through them and make sure they’re right rather than doing exams and trying to get marks back. My teachers also give me great feedback as well whenever I need to improve on something; they are all so friendly and I’ve made such nice friends.

Really, really good! To be fair, the lecturers have taught us the content and then told us to go off and do our own assignments. Obviously we’ve taken notes in class, but our lecturers have also made sure to share any teaching resources, like PowerPoints, on Microsoft Teams so we all have access to them while we work. They’ve also provided us with help on how to formally reference books and websites, and the feedback they provided was great! The feedback I received always came with key headlines and then a more detailed breakdown, so their support has been super helpful to my academic and personal progression, since I know what to include and what I should include next time for similar tasks. I couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at Newcastle College for all their support during my time so far as a student.

I haven’t used Student Services or Central Support Services (CSS), but if I ever needed help I would go to them, my tutors or even my friends as well to see what they say. I have friends who have been helped by support staff though, and they always have positive feedback from the experience.


Do you have any tutors who have industry experience? If so, how has this helped you?

Yes, definitely! My main tutor used to work in a nursery before switching to teaching, so we would all ask her questions about taking care of (for example) babies, and she always said it’s a helpful experience since it helps give you an idea of how to look after infants if any of us ever have our own children in the future. The Childcare team leader came in and talked to us about dress codes at placements and advised us on what we should or shouldn’t be doing. It helped me since I was getting quite anxious about what to wear on placements, since I didn’t want my employers to think that I was unprofessional! My tutors have always been such a great help, they always go out of their way to support me if I needed it.


Did you look into financial support available from the college? If so what were they and how did they help?

I didn’t receive any financial support. To be honest, I didn’t really know about it at first, but some of my friends started receiving bursaries or other kinds of financial support, so I learnt what was on offer through them.


Have you overcome any challenges while on your course? If so how has the college helped you?

At first, I wasn’t sure about going into a working nursery. I was concerned about whether I’d enjoy it or not, but going into it and getting stuck in helped me to realise that it wasn’t as bad as I’d worried it would be. The children, the teachers and the nursery support staff are all so lovely, but juggling nursery work and college work has also improved my time management skills too. It’s also helped me to focus when I am working, since I take care that my academic assignments are handed in on time and they’re detailed enough for me to get the high marks I know I can achieve. Honestly, the mixture of practical training and academic theory I’ve received as a Newcastle College student is second to none, and it’s really helped me to weigh out what I could do after I complete my studies; for example, I didn’t realise I could become a teaching assistant in a nursery or a childcare practitioner once I complete my current course. That said, I definitely want to go onto university after Newcastle College, but it’s good to know that I have options if I decide not to go to university.


What do you/did you enjoy most about your course?

I definitely have to say my placement. The placements are formally ending this week, but I asked my tutors and the school I work at if it would be alright to stay on until the children leave to go onto Reception. They agreed and said it would be fine, but this extra time wouldn’t count towards my placement hours. I’ve really enjoyed being there for these children during their very first years of schooling, the college work and placement hours haven’t been too stressful, so the chance to make such great friends and memories while also getting hands-on experience and the chance to make a real difference to young children is an opportunity for which I couldn’t be more grateful.


How do you feel that the course has/is benefitting you?

It’s definitely benefitted me in terms of getting experience of what going into a school would be like. For example, if there have been strikes on some days, I’ve gone into older classrooms to help, which has given me the opportunity to get a feel for the differences between nurseries and older classes, and to see whether I might like to move onto teaching older students at some point. I absolutely feel like I’ve gained more confidence by learning at Newcastle College, since the breadth of experiences I’ve had as a student have helped me to grow as a person. I’ve learnt how to speak to the children in a more professional manner, since I wasn’t really sure at first, but I watched the teachers and copied them. I adapted to different situations, like becoming more comfortable with telling the children off, but teachers were happy to give me advice and tips on behaving in ways that I wouldn’t in other contexts, but are very important to have in the childcare industry.


What would you like to do when you finish your course? Would you consider studying a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?

I would like to be able to go to university, I don’t really mind having to move away so long as it’s the best place for me. My mam doesn’t like the idea of me moving away, but of course she’d support me with whatever I decide to do, especially for my career. Hopefully I’ll get a good degree in primary education, since I’ve heard from a few people I worked with that they’ve also done a similar course while working in nurseries and have benefitted so much from it.


What are your ambitions for the future?

Hopefully, I’ll be a qualified primary teacher, but I’d also love to be married with kids by that point. I’m all about that picture-perfect life! I’m not betting on it happening, but I’d like to be a successful primary teacher and having the children in my classes really love having me as a teacher, but also being fair in terms of telling them off when they misbehave.


What would you say to anyone thinking of studying a course with Newcastle College?

I would definitely say to go for it! It’s a really nice experience, all the teachers I’ve came into contact with are kind, open and supportive, and always say ‘If you need someone to talk to, you can talk to us’. Student Services are also really supportive, they’ve taken us to a Newcastle College University Centre lecture as well, so we can see what options we have after completing our course; that’s been really good as well, since not many colleges would encourage us to find out so much about the options available to us, instead of having just one set path. Overall though, I would definitely recommend coming to Newcastle College to study since it’s a really friendly environment, you learn a lot of very useful skills, but it’s also such a community with seating areas outside in the open for us to enjoy the sunshine, as well as Newcastle Sixth Form College on site as well for you to hang out with friends who go there as well.

Top tips

Be confident in yourself – if you came in alone without friends, definitely try to make friends! You’ll be sat on tables with people and get a feel for what they’re like.

Don’t expect classes to be like in school – everyone will talk to everyone.

Be open – if you’re friendly towards your classmates, then people will be open towards you.

Don’t be afraid of contributing to classes – when I first started here I was quite nervous about speaking up, but with the help of my teachers and my friends I’ve become much more comfortable sharing my thoughts.

Treat every moment as a learning experience – if you do come in by yourself, then it’s preparing you for university or the workplace where you’re unlikely to know anyone, but you have to go in and meet new people, make new friends and be ready to tackle new challenges.

Take care of yourself – if you’re ever unhappy, there’s always going to be someone here who can look after you, give you advice or direct you towards someone who can give you the best support.