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Building successful careers. Here is Georgia Mckay's journey so far.

Georgia Mckay BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies Coventry university

Hi, my name is Georgia a graduate in childhood and Youth Studies at Coventry university. My journey hasn't been a smooth one but with lots of hardwork, courage and enthusiasm, I managed to finish my degree with flying colours. Towards the end of my second year of study, I went through some difficulties due to circumstances at home. At that point I decided to take a year out from full time studies to go through that period. However I decided to embark on a sandwich year instead to build and improve on my practical skills.

My course introduced me to a module on 'special and inclusive education' which gave me a deeper understanding of schools and inclusion. It was at that point that I became interested in becoming a teacher. So I secured a three months placement at a special needs school for children with ASD, and a further six months at a mainstream school working as a teaching assistant aswel as shadowing a 'SENCO'. The plan was to develop a better understanding of the career I wanted to pursue and how theories I was learning at university would be relevant in practice.

The three months I spent working at the special needs education school were great fun. I loved 'SEN' work and luckily enough, there was a vacancy going which I managed to apply for. When I got offered the job, I knew my hardwork and enthusiasm was starting to pay off. My role as a Teaching assistant is very varied and quite different from the typical teaching assistant role. In my provision, each class has a teacher, three teaching assistants and an average of 7-9 pupils. As a team we deliver 'profoundly personalised' teaching and learning to our pupils. Working on a positivist approach, we seek to develop our pupils' skills through using their personal interests to make learning more enticing to them.

Although we teach them subjects like phonics and maths, we also place more emphasis on communication methods and interactions. We use a variety of methods such as picture exchange, Makaton signing, simple language and technology such as swiftkey. We integrate a lot of social stories with pictures or Makaton symbols to explain social situations and also encourage children to play alongside each other. We also focus on building pupils' life skills such as walking them to the park, playing safely, cooking and making trips to the supermarket which can all be challenging situations for our pupils and families.

In third year I was able to do some part time work at the same school while commuting to Coventry university. Balancing studies and work was never easy but with determination, discipline and hardwork I managed to pull it through with a second class upper (2:1) degree qualification and thereby securing a permanent job at the same school. Since graduating, I have applied to study a PGCE with early years (3-7) specialism. Once I gain my Qualified teacher status and gain more confidence in teaching, I intend to progress further by training to become a SENCO, or open a nursery with specialism in ASD.

Volunteering was the best thing I have ever done for my career. It showed me exactly what passion can bring and gave me the opportunity to try out and learn new things. What could I have done if I hadn't done this! I love working with the pupils and being able to make such a massive difference to pupils and their families. I hope my journey to where I am today inspires all the other aspiring young professionals. Thank you


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