To mark National Teaching Assistant day on 16 September, we spoke to OU student Geraldine Tarr.
Geraldine was born in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa from the age of ten. She moved to Wales in 2004, which saw her begin her learning journey with The Open University. A single mother to two young children, she began looking for work in the area around Newport. Although she applied to work at her daughter’s nursey, the headteacher recommended her to a local primary school, where she started supporting a child with autism.
She then began a new job as a teaching assistant at Croesyceiliog school in Cwmbran and began taking free adult education community classes to build her qualifications. She also went to a series of free workshops for school support staff organised by the OU. University had never seemed like an option to Geraldine, but her newfound learning gave her the confidence to carry on studying, and she completed the ‘People, Work and Society’ Access module with the OU.
After attending the free courses with an OU tutor, I started to believe in myself. The certificates I gained meant the world to me. It was just the stepping stone I needed.Geraldine Tarr
After completing the Access course, Geraldine enrolled on a part-time degree in Criminology and Psychology, which she is ‘absolutely loving’. The flexibility of her studies with the OU mean that she can balance family and work alongside her studies.
'It’s a question of time management and juggling being a mum, a teaching assistant and student.', she adds. 'It’s a busy schedule but I love it! There is no question that my educational journey has been of enormous benefit to both myself and my children.'
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