Lifeline of support for child education

Currently studying a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Children’s Learning and Development, Heather McCrory is committed to providing an engaging and structured learning environment for children during unprecedented times.

We spoke with Heather to discover her journey into education and efforts to continue child education for key workers in challenging circumstances.

Where did your journey into education start?

I’ve always had a natural passion for working with children. When I was younger, I supported my mum in running a youth club in Harehills for vulnerable children which sparked my enthusiasm. Shortly after this, I travelled to America to work as a camp counsellor and felt an immense sense of pride knowing I was helping young people at the camp.

I spent ten years working at a bookshop and when I looked after the children’s book aisle, I often got comments on how natural I was with children. Alongside work, I enrolled on a Level 3 child learning course which inspired me to take the step to change my career. It was a nerve-racking decision to make as I was 32, but I knew this was the right path for me. 

How did your career develop?

I participated in voluntary work at my local children’s centre and once I had some good experience, I got a job working at Little Owls Quarry Mount as a nursery assistant. I have been working there for over five years now and support 15 key children. I love it – it pushes me to be the best practitioner I can be.  Alongside this full-time role, I am also studying my Level 3 qualification and attend college each month as part of the course. 

What challenges are you facing during these unprecedented times?

Little Owls Quarry Mount Nursery is currently closed and it’s upsetting to know children are missing out on a structured routine for their learning and development. We have relocated to a site for key worker children and do half day shifts. I am working with one boy and we do various activities together to help develop his skills and aid his development. I have also been using the Tapestry platform, which is a great way of recording all the learning taking place and feeding back to families. 

It’s challenging to always stay updated with the changing regulations and guidance, such as signing iPad protocols. However, my management team have been superb as they have been on-hand to answer any questions and provide guidance. The team are also constantly checking the rota to ensure everyone has been considered and kept safe.

I’ve also volunteered to work at NHS nurseries, where I’m currently on standby in case they need extra support. I have  joined the NHS responder team, where people can contact me for ‘check-in and chat’ calls.

How has your experience at college been?

I’ve absolutely loved learning new things and feel very proud to be thriving in my career. It can be difficult to juggle life, college, work, family and the gym, so finding a balance is definitely the key to success. 

I have weekly check-ins with my programme manager, Cheryl, who is fantastic for keeping me motivated and supporting me with tasks. Her feedback is incredibly thorough and useful to me and I love the feeling of receiving such positive feedback.

Working remotely has been challenging, but I have adapted through creating structure to my daily routine and also gives me time to catch up with college and school reports.

It’s so rewarding to have a positive impact on children’s lives and although this period of uncertainty may disrupt learning, we are going the extra mile to support children to achieve their best.

Find out more about our childhood and education courses here.

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