Ruth Johnston, a mum of three, returned to education as a mature student at South West College (SWC) in June 2012. Hoping to pursue a future career in childcare, Ruth enrolled on a two-year vocational BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Children’s Care Learning and Development. This course offers individuals a vocational pathway aligning with the knowledge and skills that employers seek and allowed Ruth to pursue her studies close to her home in Ballynakelly, Coalisland. Fast forward to 2021, and after her studies and despite the worldwide pandemic, Ruth is ready to embark on her next venture as a registered childminder.
Ruth’s course provided a flexible approach to learning, combining a wide range of theory teaching with practical experience gained by working part-time within a local primary school. Ruth adapted well to this style and flourished at SWC.
Ruth said: “During my two years as a student in SWC the Lecturers were extremely supportive and encouraged me to achieve my potential. I enjoyed the course, and it gave me the confidence and self-belief that I lacked while I was at school.”
Ruth’s decision to re-engage with education helped aid her career progression. When she finished her studies, she found employment as a Learning Support Worker at South West College, a post she held for over seven years. Ruth said: “During this time, I supported many students, and it gives me great joy to see them achieving their qualification and progressing to further or higher education or employment.”
Ruth remained passionate about enriching children’s lives and decided to pursue her ambition to become a childminder in late 2019. Of course, things changed in 2020, when the pandemic meant that childminding as a career was hit hard, with many childminders unable to remain open.
Ruth said, “The past year has been a challenging one, and it has brought many changes, not all of which have been positive. I became registered as a Childminder in December 2019. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but unfortunately, due to the Pandemic, my childminding business did not get off the ground, so I had to suspend my registration.”
Despite the Pandemic, however, Ruth persevered and now she is ready to open her childminding business. She said: “Thankfully, I have been contacted in recent weeks by two families and will hopefully have four children starting in February. I look forward to caring for these children, contributing to their holistic development and providing an enriching learning experience for them. I will be sad to leave SWC, but it has been a great journey, and I feel privileged to have been both a student and an employee here.’
For more information and advice on further education, higher education and apprenticeship options, explore the SWC Virtual Open Days this February. Higher Education and Higher-Level Apprenticeship events: 8-10 February, 5:30pm-6:30pm. Further Education and Apprenticeship events: 22-24 February, 5:30pm-6:30pm. To register for these virtual events, please visit: www. swc.ac.uk