Sarah has done a lot of outstanding work in her community having, among other things, worked with the Children in Care Council for a number of years. She has been an ambassador for them, a deputy chair, and recently she’s been a chair for them for over a year.
The Children in Care Council is for children in care or who are leaving care. Sarah plans the agenda for the meetings between the Chairs and they’ll discuss the issues they want to raise with the council about their care scheme. For example, they currently want more support regarding mental health, hygiene, and are also trying to change the language that professionals use when working with children in care.
As you can see, Sarah has always been passionate about caring for others and, although her goals have changed throughout the years, she has always come back to the idea of being a teacher.
She says about her study with Activate Learning, “Although I am really involved in the care community, my aim is still to be a teacher, but I’m just sort of taking it as it comes really. I want to get a lot of experience in different areas before I set out on one career path. I’d like to be a teacher for a couple of years and then probably go into social work before deciding what I really want to do. Thanks to my work placements though college and outside of it, I have links to both careers. I did my work placement at John Watson school and now I’m starting with them this year as a full-time teaching assistant at Grade 6. I’ve been in my work placement there for over a year now and they have always been really keen on getting me to apply for a job there, but I had a lot of assignment work with college and I wanted to finish that first, but now I’m graduating, I applied for a role there and I start in May, so I’m really happy about that!”
During her many placements through college and work with the community, Sarah has been able to build inspiring bonds with the children that she has worked with and seen real results over a long period of time. There is one girl in particular that Sarah has been able to watch make real progress.
“I’ve known her since she was six years old. She’s now nine and the improvement I’ve seen in her is so incredible. I’ve used my experiences with her a lot in my college assignments as her progress is just so phenomenal. She has ADHD and autism, but just small changes in her diet—getting more probiotics in her diet and thereby increasing the amount of good bacteria in her digestive system—has had an incredible impact on her behaviour. On the health and social care course, you’re looking at every aspect of care: exercise, nutrition, language, physiology and how the brain works. It’s really interesting.”
It’s clear that Sarah has a deep investment in her chosen career pathway, but what drew her to City of Oxford College in particular?
“One of the main things that inspired me about the college was the care suite—an area that replicates a real care facility—and how we could use it to do practical things. We got to practice taking blood pressure, taking blood samples, swabbing things within the care suite to see what was dirty, how to properly make beds etc. We also used wax to make fake wounds and learn how to dress them properly. It was really interesting.
“I knew a lot of people who had already been there; family and friends, and they’d said positive things about it. I live relatively local to the college, so it was convenient for me to attend too. I attended an Open Event first to have a look around and speak to the teachers and that’s what made my mind up to attend.”
In between her studies and work in the community, Sarah enjoyed just hanging out around the college with the many friends she’d made there. She enjoyed the food in the cafes on site, hanging out in the Westgate and relaxing in the fields opposite the college when the weather was nice.
Now she has graduated and is moving on with her career, Sarah has a few words of advice for any potential students:
“I would say that what I’ve learnt here is to stay motivated, no matter what. Things aren’t always going to work out the way you want so you need to be determined on achieving your goals for yourself. Not your friends or anyone else; you need to do the work that will get you to where you want to be.”