Sam Kellogg - College of Education - University of Derby

Sam Kellogg, BA (Hons) Child and Youth Studies, 2014

What are you doing now?

Prior to achieving my First Class Honours degree in Child and Youth Studies BA (Hons) I worked as Family Support worker for five years within the Kirk Hallam Multi-Agency Team, part of Children’s Services for Derbyshire County Council. This entailed supporting families with complex needs and preventing issues escalating into social care ‘Child In Need’ or ‘Child Protection’ procedures.

Following completion of my degree I was in a position having both the experience and qualifications, to apply for the post of an Early Help Senior Practitioner within the Kirk Hallam / Ilkeston Multi-Agency Team. I was offered the job and I now have line management responsibility for a cluster of Family Support Workers.

It is highly challenging and involves making serious safeguarding decisions on a daily basis. I work in close partnership with colleagues from other services and agencies, including close working relationships with schools, health and social care.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I felt as a Family Support Worker I needed to embed more theory into my practice to help me support families more efficiently, to resolve issues in a more timely manner, and reduce risk factors embedded in the family makeup. I also had ambitions to progress in my career and to do so would require increasing my level of qualifications. 

After attending an Open Day I quickly understood the course at Derby provided a real flexibility, as it  allowed me to utilise my current place of work as my university placement. This would allow me to continue in my employment and study at the same time. As a result I was able to study full-time and complete my degree in three years. Although I knew this would be challenging, the way the course was set up allowed made this possible. 

The course modules covered all areas of work I undertook in my daily practice within the field of family support so enhanced my work within practice.  I also was aware of colleagues who had undertaken the course and were very positive about their experience, lecturers and excellent support offer.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby? 

The location of the university allowed me to study whilst continuing to work full-time. I had also spoken to previous students who informed me of how well the University was progressing and how much they had enjoyed studying there. I was also aware of how positive the course was viewed by previous students and of the excellent support offered by all staff, and Helen Wilson, who was the course leader.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

Within six months after graduation I was offered the role I currently hold in practice. This post required a degree level qualification, and without having spent time studying my progression opportunities would have been very limited.  Alongside the career development the degree helped me to increase my salary, which has increased the quality of life for my family. This is especially important given I am father to two young children. 

The qualification has enabled me to support the staff I manage through utilising the knowledge and theory I gained throughout my period of study which underpins my management practice style. The course also helped to develop my confidence when assessing the needs of children, young people and their family which will ultimately keep children and families safe from harm.

How did the lecturers inspire you? 

The lecturers were highly supportive throughout formal and informal discussions, and their flexibility to help when required was a particularly positive aspect. In relation to this I cannot speak highly enough about the level of care provided to support all the students personal and study needs.  The delivery styles utilised within lectures were inclusive of everybody’s needs and the use of different methods of delivery helped to keep them interesting, whilst still being very informative, theory and practice driven.

Another particularly valuable trait of the makeup of the lecturing staff, was their vast array of different professional and personal experiences. This gave me a range of strategies and perspectives to help me to support families I work with. These different experiences made me feel confident about being able to deliver the content of the course within the complex reality of frontline work in social care based work. 

I cannot speak highly enough about the level of care provided to support all the students personal and study needs

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far? 

To begin the university experience has vastly refreshed my outlook to my working career. Prior to attending university I was almost in a ‘comfort zone’ and felt I needed a new challenge to help develop my career. The University helped me achieve this and more, plus it has enabled me to successfully gain promotion to my current employment position. 

The course vastly increased my theoretical knowledge base and enabled me to support my practical work with families, and to work effectively with partner agencies and colleagues.  

What are your future plans?

I plan to work in my current role to gain experience of management and look to progress further to more strategic levels of employment, hopefully within the local authority.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

The decision to study at Derby has changed my life completely. Not doing so would have resulted in demotivation at work and could have impacted on my performance and future prospects. The course has opened up a vast array of future opportunities for me and I would advise potential students to consider Derby strongly as a preferred setting to undertake their studies.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby? 

Course leader – Helen Wilson who was highly supportive throughout my time at Derby. I recently went back to the University to deliver a session around my current role to hopefully encourage future graduates to enter this line of employment. 

"The decision to study at Derby has changed my life completely." Sam Kellogg