Alumni Story: Paving the Way for Future Education

Social Sciences & Care

I left Itchen College in 2003 armed with my A Levels in English Literature, Geography and Economics and took a leap into the unknown to study at Exeter University.

Many aspects of this next step terrified me; I’d be living away from home, would I make friends? I’d be managing my own rent and bills, would I cope with the financial independence? Importantly, I’d be studying for a degree, would I be able to do the work? I’d loved my two years at Itchen College, knew my teachers well and had a great group of friends. Leaving it all behind was not easy.

Fast forward three years to the summer of 2006, I am a sobbing mess on my doorstep of the beloved house I’d rented with friends in Exeter. I’d been awarded a 2:1 in International Relations (a super combination of Geography, Economics and Politics) and I was waving goodbye to some of the best friends I have ever made. We were all going our separate ways, some to jobs around the country, some to London and I was about to start an internship in the European Parliament in Brussels. I wanted time to stop still right then, just so I could keep living this wonderful life, perhaps then I wouldn’t need to grow up and enter the ‘real’ world of work!

My first taste of ‘real work’, aside from the various waitressing jobs I’d had over the years, showed me that you really never stop learning. This time I was just getting paid for it! I spent a fascinating six months working in Brussels and after much thought, decided to come back to Southampton to complete my teacher training. A PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education), would give me a respected qualification that I could travel the world with. However, despite ambitions to teach abroad, I only ever reached London and have never left! Teaching in London was a huge dive into the deep end of the pool, but I gained huge experience very quickly, to sink or to swim were my options, I did my best to swim! I made the city my home, and now can’t imagine working anywhere else.

I have been working in Education now for over ten years and was recently appointed to a panel at the Department for Education who are working on a ’T-Level’ in Education and Childcare. This technical qualification will be on a par with A Levels, but offers a more practical, work-based route into the field. I was delighted to meet Claire Eades, teacher of Early Years Educator and Health and Social Care on the panel and we’ve had great fun reminiscing over coffee!

I am hugely grateful to Itchen College for putting me on the right track to fulfil my ambitions, without my A Levels, I wouldn’t be where I am today. To any current Itchen students, I would say work as hard as you can while you have the opportunity, your qualifications will open doors you don’t even know exist yet. And keep hold of your friends, they make the journey a whole lot of fun!

Emma Lennard (Emma Mulvey)
Itchen College 2001-2003