''I started my degree in Education and Special Educational Needs at Holy Cross College 3 years ago. For many years I worked as a teaching assistant and felt that a university education would be beyond me, that I would not belong in the large halls and faceless seminars of a large campus. Then I discovered Holy Cross College and all of that changed. I found Holy Cross to provide a close knit and hugely supportive educational network, that allowed me to balance my job, raising two young children with a University education. It was hard work, and I entered with low expectations of myself, but with the nurturing provided by the various tutors, I have come out with a 1st class honours degree, and have also achieved an award for my performance. My next steps will be to use my degree award to gain formal teaching qualifications and to put my degree to practice. None of this would have been possible had I not attended the open day just over 3 years ago!''
''I commenced on the BA Hons Education and Special Education Needs course 3 years ago on recommendation from a friend. At the time I just finished maternity leave and was looking for a change in career to suit my family needs. Holy Cross was able to offer this course on full time evening study meaning that I was still able to work and attend evening study. This fit in comfortably with all my other commitments. Working as a Learning Support Assistant in a Secondary School the course has offered an enormous amount of knowledge to aid with progression in my career. It has been a tremendously tough 3 years trying to balance a small child, full time work and a full time degree. Without the support I received from the lovely staff at Holy Cross and Liverpool Hope I feel there were times when I was closing to giving up and after the unfortunate death of a close family member, failure nearly became a reality. What took the pressure off slightly was the ease of travelling to Bury campus instead of Liverpool as this made the course much more accessible. It would be prudent of me to express how grateful I am to the college and university and its staff for their continued support. I am immensely proud of myself and an example that through hard work, perseverance and determination it is possible to achieve the unachievable. I have left with a First Class Honours degree and have been awarded with a promotion to SEND Intervention Manager on the back of this degree. I would highly recommend Holy Cross to anyone considering entering in to further education.''
''At the age of 27 I decided that it was time for me to do something for myself. I decided to enquire about a course I had seen online at Holy Cross, when I went for my initial appointment I was told that the course was run by Liverpool Hope but based at Holy Cross. We discussed all the financial options and I decided to enrol on the SEN and Education.
My time at Hope has been amazing and the support from my tutors Irene Rose, Dr Cathal O'Siochru, Dr John Tillson and Dr David Lundiebringing bringing their own insight and knowledge to the subjects made the courses more understandable and enjoyable.
The support of the staff was phenomenal, I had my own Holy Cross support tutor to liaise with and being part of the Network of Hope ensured that I received the same quality of university education whilst maintaining a full-time job and personally did not have to travel far''.
Mary from Manchester studied BA Education and Special Educational Needs at Holy Cross University Centre, in the Network of Hope. Her journey started with a desire to raise disability awareness in African communities both in the UK and Africa. http://equaleducationchances.org/
''The journey that led me to study Education and SEN was to strive to make an impact on disability awareness, I was able to develop critical understanding in SEN to become a tutor assistant in a special college in Manchester. These two foundations have allowed me to understand how individuals with impairments can fulfil their potential academically in an inclusive environment.
Hope has given me the opportunity to achieve my degree with interactive teaching methods and flexibility, qualified and passionate tutors, reading resources and a well-equipped library at Holy Cross College and University Centre; all these resources contributed to my academic success at Hope.
What had the biggest impact for me at Hope was the support I received from my tutors and support staff. It was awesome''.
Catherine was originally a police officer who wanted a change of direction to become a teacher in the Early Years sector. Through word of mouth, Catherine approached Holy Cross University Centre to discuss the different options available to achieve her goal and embarked on a three year part time Foundation Degree in Early Years with Leeds Metropolitan University through Holy Cross. Further to gaining a distinction Catherine continued to study for a Top Up to BA Honours with Edge Hill University through Holy Cross and subsequently a PGCE with MMU. Catherine is now a fully qualified teacher eagerly awaiting her first teaching position with Rochdale Borough Council.
‘I found the quality & standard of degrees with both Leeds and Edge Hill very good, the workload was manageable even with a young family, the tutors were very hands on and helpful and the Holy Cross team were fantastic with me, especially during a bout of illness.’
Helen had a successful career in retail for twenty years but following serious illness realised that she would like to re-ignite her education and undertake formal qualifications. After completing an NVQ Level 3 in Childcare and two GCSE's Helen embarked upon a BA Honours degree in Education with Liverpool Hope University through Holy Cross.
This is what Helen said about studying for a degree at Holy Cross University Centre:- ‘Being able to go to University in your home town is unbelievable and a great opportunity. You have to be organised and disciplined to juggle all aspects of your life whilst studying, but study is very flexible and you can work your life around it. Studying has really changed my outlook on the world.’
Helen was awarded the Dean's scholarship twice for being in the top 20 across all Liverpool Hope students and is now a paid counsellor for the NSPCC.
‘I would now like to continue studying for my Masters degree!’
The unfortunate situation of Graham being made redundant in 2010 provided him with the perfect opportunity to pursue his desire to teach. He took a position as a Teaching Assistant at a local primary school and began his journey on gaining the necessary qualifications to apply to do a degree with Edge Hill University through Holy Cross. After several successful years studying at Holy Cross, Graham is now studying to become a qualified teacher at Edge Hill.
This is what Graham said about studying at Holy Cross University Centre:- ‘Holy Cross has been absolutely great, the library is good, communication is good and above all the support and advice is excellent’.
Naila had always had an interest in English and decided to pursue this by undertaking a degree in English Language & Literature with Edge Hill University through Holy Cross. Naila found studying at Holy Cross very convenient as being able to attend classes in the evenings worked around her family life. Naila has four children, one of which was born whilst she was studying for her degree, although she does admit that she was very organised and disciplined when it came to her studies. However, with the level of support she received from Holy Cross, the accommodating tutors and flexible delivery methods, she found she loved doing the coursework and the time flew by. Naila has now applied to undertake a PGCE to become a qualified teacher.
‘Graduating was the proudest moment of my life.’
I elected to study Education and Special Educational Needs at Holy Cross for several reasons. Firstly, the degree was ran by Liverpool Hope University which is considered a prestigious institution with high success rate which was of importance to me. I chose the degree based on my intrinsic desire to learn more about how disability is accepted without our society alongside how we can work to eradicate these barriers and the course content was reflective of this. I have always had a natural interest within SEN and it seemed apparent that this course would keep me stimulated throughout. Additionally, it helped that the college was less than 2 miles from home and I didn’t need to travel to Liverpool each week which would not have been feasible! Finally, the help I received from all the university staff when enquiring about the course was invaluable. Nothing was too much trouble and all my queries were answered quickly and any concerns promptly laid to rest. This outstanding service significantly swayed my decision to return to Holy Cross to study. It was thoroughly enjoyable and challenging in equal measure! Again, the support received was invaluable and helped immensely.
Holy Cross provided me with the confidence to chase my ambitions and without their expert knowledge on the course, I would never have chosen to become a mature student. Not only that, I made friends with many likeminded people on the course who have become friends for life…..something I never bargained for when I enrolled! You reap what you sow – by applying 100% effort and dedication to my degree it paid off and I graduated with a First Class Honours. I got out exactly what I put in! Graduation day! The day far exceeded any expectations which I had and was amazing from start to finish. It was the culmination of three years hard work and to be applauded by all the lectures when leaving the Cathedral was surreal! After recently completing my PGCE and being offered a teaching role within a Pupil Referral Unit I will be taking a well-earned rest from academia however…… a Masters………who knows………..very likely though! I will look back on my time at Holy Cross with fond memories and will be forever thankful of the support that was there to help me achieve my full potential. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back or recommend the college to anyone looking to further their education. Thanks a million!
When I was eighteen I declined a place at university to study Art in favour of full time employment. This decision allowed my partner-now-husband and I to get onto the property ladder at an early age and subsequently, we were in a secure financial position to start a family in the years that followed. I have loved every moment of my family’s journey, yet ever since I stood at those crossroads many years ago and made those decisions, obtaining a degree was always something I always wished I had done; my personal ‘what if’.
I have realised that my children will not be children forever. My husband and I were fairly young when we became parents, we are now preparing for the next chapter of our lives together; we continue to support each other as a couple, a family, and as individuals with distinctive dreams and aspirations. Working in a state secondary school as examinations officer for the past fourteen years has allowed me to spend quality time with my family, a work-life balance I know I would not have had the luxury of experiencing in other fields of employment, and I am most grateful for this. During this time I have developed a love of learning and a passion for education, which is why I chose to study BA Hons Education and Special Educational Needs. I enrolled as a mature student at the Holy Cross University Centre in Bury in August 2015, feeling equally excited and petrified. In fact, on reflection, I would say that my entire experience as a mature student has been equally challenging and enjoyable, and both in significant measures.
As a mature student, I found juggling full time employment, a full time degree course, and busy family life immensely hard at times. However, I was thoroughly enjoying studying at degree level and my course content was fascinating. This, along with consistently looking ahead to my end goal, made the long nights bent over my laptop with little sleep much more bearable! A journal of some description and a highlighter became almost permanently attached to my hand, day and night, during pantomime rehearsals, swimming lessons and dance practises. I found myself envying the cohorts of young college graduates, the majority of which have more time study at a degree level with less adult or family commitments. Yet envious as I often was when sleep deprived and under pressure to meet deadlines, I realise that I would probably not have gained or maintained similar levels of academic achievement, resilience and determination if I had taken this commitment on at a younger age. I also realise that life experience has allowed me to reflect on the content on my course more thoroughly and deliberately.
The university tutors and college support tutors were incredibly supportive and understanding. Resources and communication services were excellent, and this helped me enormously to succeed. I am extremely proud to see my hard work and dedication come to fruition. Some of my year two assignment work is now used within the Liverpool Hope University’s teacher training department and contributes to training pre-service teachers and their understanding of the government’s SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years. Furthermore, my academic achievements were recognised by Hope’s Department of Disability and Education at a separate awards ceremony on the morning of my graduation. I am extremely grateful that this type of study is available through Holy Cross and the Network of Hope for mature students; there is no other way I would have been able to gain a degree whilst working full time and I would definitely recommend the university centre to others. I am passionate about education and equality and now intend to put my passions into practice. Holy Cross University Centre has opened doors for me; I am now able to apply for certain roles advertised at higher salaries and am excited at the prospect of finding a new career, albeit that I may now take a few stepping stones until I come to find my ideal role. Career wise, I am not yet sure what the future holds for me and I intend to ask for guidance from the university’s careers department, but I feel like I am stood on an edge about to take flight….and it feels amazing.
Before I started my degree at Holy Cross, I was working part time at my local High School, during my time at Holy Cross I have gained many new skills, I have learnt academic skills such as research and analysing a variety of different sources and texts as well as learning to deal better with coping in stressful situations and how to better manage my time. The best moments for me is the sense of pride whenever I achieved a good mark on an essay or exam, going into the second year History exam I was worried about it as it wasn't a strong topic of mine but I came out with my best mark on any piece of work I did. I also enjoyed being able to look at some books in English I otherwise probably wouldn't have come across such as Midnight's Children. By completing my degree I am now able to go onto complete a masters in sports Journalism, being a journalist is my ultimate dream and the degree has given me the opportunity to continue to peruse this. If anyone is considering a degree course at Holy Cross I would just say ‘go for it’, my degree at Holy Cross has helped put me on the right path for the career I want but it also gave me new skills and the chance to meet new people, It took me out of my comfort zone and has made me a better person.