Case study

How Karen was enriched by her online degree experience

Karen Spring is passionate about working with children. She has been a teaching assistant, senior practitioner, curriculum coordinator and a lead teacher. And she decided to study our Early Childhood Studies BA (Hons) online top-up degree to gain a deeper understanding of children and their unique childhoods.

She has gained a 1:1 degree in her BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies degree whilst juggling having four children, moving to Dubai and working full time.

A lifelong passion

Karen’s lifelong passion has always been to work with children. She was born and raised in the UK into a large West Indian community which acted as a support network to her single mother.

"Being a child of a single parent meant I had to take on responsibilities and be more mature in order to support the household by babysitting for friends and relatives. This extended network provided me the opportunity to engage with children younger than myself."

"I wanted to develop a thorough understanding of how-to best support children and their families depending upon their needs. I also wanted to be recognised as a professional in the early childhood field, and feel confident in my ability to collaborate with other professionals involved with the education and care of children."

Online learning graduate Karen Spring at graduation
Online Early Childhood Studies graduate Karen Spring

Homelife and studying

Karen lived in Abu Dhabi for 15 years then last year moved to Dubai with her partner and four children. She needed to balance her studies with home life whilst also working full-time. Studying online enabled her to do this and to continue her studies anywhere in the world.

She found the support she received from her tutors and fellow students invaluable.

“Working alongside such a diverse group of students enriched the experience for me. Engaging in debates and discussions brought my learning to life and provided the opportunity to see things from alternative perspectives.”

“I really didn’t feel that I was alone in my studies. I always had someone to turn to for support, advice and guidance.”

Taking on any challenge

When Karen completed her dissertation this was one of her biggest achievements whilst studying; after initially being apprehensive about such a significant piece of work.

“The sense of achievement, and how proud you feel when you hand it in gives you a boost and proves that you can take on any challenge.”

Since studying her degree at Derby she has gained many transferable skills that can be used academically, professionally and personally. This included time management, leadership skills and cultural competence. Especially when it comes to skills and knowledge that she may need for any chosen career in the early childhood field.

“The course has definitely boosted my confidence and I feel competent in my abilities to advocate on behalf of children and their families.”

Looking to the future

Karen has now enrolled on a Masters in Education (with SEND pathway) continuing to study online after thoroughly enjoying her experience at Derby. She is looking to continue her passion of working with children whilst moving into research looking at policy and law around Education.

"Before studying my degree I was working for immigration, so that had a lot of policy and government legislations. So I've always been interested in anything to do with that sort of area. And so for me, educational research was sort of like the next step that interested me. So this is why I went for my masters. I'm hoping maybe to move into something to do with research, whether it be into early years or within mainstream schooling or special educational needs. But something where I'm developing theory and practice and policy."

Teacher holding up shapes to a young child

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