Hearing from our graduates and learning about their exciting journeys never fails to make us smile here at UCW!
We recently caught up with Early Years and Education alumni Josh Shapland. Since graduating in 2018, started working as a Senior Education Worker for IntoUniversity. Centred around increasing education opportunities, IntoUniversity centres offer a welcoming home-from-home for young people: a safe space to learn, explore and succeed. Each local centre offers an innovative programme that supports young people aged seven and up to realise their ambitions, achieve their academic potential, develop vital skills and gain experience of the world of work.
Josh has worked in the IntoUniversity Weston-super-Mare team since it opened in Spring 2018, in partnership with the University of Bath.
When recently returning to inspire Weston College learners at our Sixth Form day, we caught up with Josh to talk about his experience during and after university…
How do you think UCW prepared you for the world of work?
UCW’s support for students in gaining graduate attributes, particularly those nurtured through their work experience opportunities, enabled me to have a smooth and successful transition into employment immediately upon graduating. Having experienced a range of settings and then analysing these experiences through various assignments helped me to develop a critical lens when walking into an education setting. Now working in education, this has helped me to reflect on best practice, implement new strategies and commit to a cycle of planning, doing and reviewing to ensure my practice and environment always reflect the most up-to-date research-based best practices.
What was the main benefit of coming to UCW?
For me the quality of the teaching was paramount and evidently effective in the value added to my learning journey. I entered the course with average or below FE grades and existed with a First-Class Honours degree achieving over 80%. I believe this improvement is largely down to the commitment of the lecturers to make the learning accessible in a range of ways to align with how their students learn. Moreover, the smaller group sizes allow for much deeper discussions and debates of key topics which promote a synergistic learning environment between lecturers and students.
What has your journey been like since graduation?
Since graduating I have spent the last 4 years working for IntoUniveristy, a widening participation charity that provides local learning centres where young people are inspired to achieve. I started off on IntoUniversity’s graduate scheme but knowing there was a permanent job at the end of it has allowed me to progress to Senior Education Worker and explore various avenues for my own continuing professional development. I currently spend my days going into schools and colleges running aspiration-raising workshops for underprivileged young people, providing them with the information and skills to make informed decisions about their futures.
What inspires you most about higher education?
Higher Education is our best option for successful social mobility. It allows students to access a level of education which allows them to not only have deeper knowledge of their chosen subject but gain the skills or critical analysis that will help them to approach life in a different outlook. I don’t believe that university is the right option for everyone, you certainly don’t have to access HE to be successful, but we need to challenge the notion that university is only accessible to the privileged. Seeing the research about the progress, albeit slowly, into diversifying university intakes is encouraging.
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