Working mum achieves professional teaching qualification while battling lupus disease

A mature student from Cardiff will join thousands across the country graduating this week despite her ongoing battle with lupus disease, to continue her career in education.

The journey to studying the Professional Certificate in Education – Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) course at Cardiff Metropolitan University for Sarah Brind, 46 from Radyr, came as a surprise following her lupus diagnosis 20 years ago, when she was working as a nursery manager at the time.

She said: “I have worked in childcare for over twenty years in a variety of roles, as a nursery manager, in schools, and also on the Flying Start programme. Anyone who works in the profession will understand how physically demanding the job can be, so when I received my diagnosis I had to reconsider what I would do long term. At the time I was a single mum with a young son and I was keen to stay in the industry in some capacity.”

Like many students who choose to come back to study later in life, Sarah initially only enrolled on the 10-week Preparing to Teach course at Cardiff Met. However, her course leader spotted her motivation and encouraged her to progress onto the PCET professional qualification which allows students to teach in post-16 education, including further education colleges and adult education.

Sarah, who has two children, now works as an Internal Quality Assurer (IQA), most recently getting a new job at the Educ8 Training Group. In this role, Sarah is responsible for monitoring that assessors have reviewed students’ work fairly. She is also a supply teacher at Bridgend College – a job she secured while studying at University.

Sarah continued: “I have always loved working in childcare. Following my diagnosis, my role as an IQA became the perfect fit as it has allowed me to stay in the industry, but behind the scenes and without the physical demand. By still working part-time at the college as well, I get to have direct contact with students and can impart the knowledge I have learnt over the years onto the next generation.”

Sarah will graduate from Cardiff Metropolitan University with a Professional Certificate in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET). The course is aimed at students who have a Level 3 qualification in their specialist subject and wish to further their experience in their subject area by teaching in the post-compulsory sector of education and training or lifelong learning and skills sector. Students often go on to teach in FE colleges, universities, training academies, as well as prison education and alternative education providers.

Sarah said that she has enjoyed her time at university, but being a working mother alongside studying means you need to be prepared to juggle and make some sacrifices: “I would definitely recommend studying at university to anyone else thinking about what they’d like to do next. I have surprised myself, but I am now looking forward to having some time for myself and family again.”

Sarah added: “Although I have decided not to embark on any ‘big’ courses right now, I will be using the skills I have learned from this course to help some friends to open a church called, ‘Every Nation’, in Cardiff, running the Children’s Ministry and after school clubs.”

Leanne Davies, Senior Lecturer in the PGCE/PCE PCET and Preparing to Teach course at Cardiff Met Uni, said: “Sarah was a student who was unsure of her ability at the start of her journey but embraced the course fully and has completed with such confidence – I hardly recognised her and I’m very proud. The Preparing to Teach 10-week course was perfect in building Sarah’s confidence, getting back into education and giving her the basic teaching toolkit for teaching and training in post-16 education.

“Most of our students who take part on the PCET course work full time, juggle family and work commitments as well as their studies. Whatever their reason is to return to education, as their tutors, we are here to provide the necessary support to enable them to succeed.  Anyone thinking of teaching, changing career direction or developing existing teaching skills would benefit from the PCE or PGCE PCET at Cardiff Met.”

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