Caroline Snookes

Early Childhood Studies

Caroline Snookes

I am doing a module this year mentoring a child within the care system in Oxford. I'm just at the starting stages but it's brilliant, the practical link, actually working with the child and not just basing everything on theory, I think that's fantastic. I get support from an Educational Psychologist from Oxfordshire who also has links to social services and the teachers at the schools. This module has been really exciting for me because it feels like I am making a bit of a difference already, it's been a highlight of my degree

After I left school I worked as a PA, then went travelling for a year and when I came back I ended up working in a film distribution company in London. After a while I reassessed everything and decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to go into teaching. I had wanted to do it for a long time, but couldn't really afford to make the move to go back to university. So I took the plunge and it's been really good. I have got a clear goal and it's a path that will eventually lead to teaching. Moving to the public sector and working with children is something that I felt strongly about, particularly children in care. I was a learning support assistant prior to coming to university and I worked with a girl in the care system and that really inspired me to do it.

Being a mature student you have got the benefit of a bit of life experience, of figuring out what you really do want to do. And you're definitely more motivated because you are paying a lot of money and you want to get the most out of it.

From an academic point of view I have really enjoyed it here. Brookes is very welcoming and it's easy to mix with everyone on the course as they are very friendly and the tutor support has been very good.

I chose to come to Brookes because of the location and because it's a good university. I had heard positive things from people that had been here and when I looked further into the modular system, it was quite practical for me as I could tailor the program to fit around work and travel (I live in Aylesbury), so that was a definite plus.

When I came to visit, everyone was very positive and welcoming and Brookes has a good history with mature students, so that was definite plus point. I came to an open day and I spoke to Bob who is the education field chair, and also my personal tutor. He is so passionate about education and that makes a really big difference, all of the tutors are passionate. The open day gave me a sense of place. I like the fact that Harcourt Hill is a small campus, that really appeals to me. I feel a little bit lost in big organisations but here the tutors know your name and you get to know the faces on the campus. You can walk into the refectory and you are going to know somebody - it's a nice, friendly place to be.

Education is such a practical subject that everybody has got an opinion about it and has had experience of it, and that's what I really love about it. It's something you can go and talk to your parents or friends about. It's a very tangible, practical thing that makes a huge difference to people's lives.

I get a lot out of the debates we have. I wanted to come to university to learn so finding out people's background and their opinions, it's just so fascinating and every day you come away with something new, you question your own opinions, and it all broadens your outlook.

I am doing a module this year mentoring a child within the care system in Oxford. I'm just at the starting stages but it's brilliant, the practical link, actually working with the child and not just basing everything on theory, I think that's fantastic. I get support from the education psychologist from Oxfordshire who also has links to social services and the teachers at the schools. This module has been really exciting for me because it feels like I am making a bit of a difference already, it's been a highlight of my degree.

Brookes has got very good links with local schools and other organisations, and there are a lot of placement-based modules that you can choose to do. Brookes also has links to the local community and we have a module about professional roles where every week somebody from the local community comes to talk to us about what their role involves and about their career progression. It's really useful as it helps us to understand how things relate to the real world. To actually talk to the people that are out there doing it, who are in that situation that you might be facing in a couple of years, is really valuable.

There is a lot of support here if you ask for it. At one point I thought about changing one of my fields and the support I received was great. It was a really valuable process, and the staff were really supportive in just talking me through it and I came to the conclusion that I was doing the right thing by not changing courses. So I felt more secure when I went on to the second year that I was on the right path.

In terms of careers, we have guest speakers who come to talk to us. We've had someone come to talk to us about the labour market as it stands at the moment, and our various options. And the admissions tutor for the PGCE came to speak to us, which was great as he gave us some great tips. The support is definitely there, and again he was so enthusiastic and he just inspired me to want to do it even more.

I used Upgrade in the first year and it was brilliant, I always tell people to go and speak to Upgrade because they are fantastic.

I have also been to see Jim Pye, the mature student advisor. I was having a few doubts about some things and it is just nice to talk to somebody like him, someone who isn't biased. He's very practical about things and he has got a lot of experience listening to mature students.

I'd like to do a PGCE after this and then I think I'll spend a couple of years in primary. After that I'll probably follow the special educational needs route. I think I'll always have a bit of a focus on children in care. I know that at Brookes the PGCE is of a high standard - I don't want to do it anywhere else.