Congratulations to all our Member Colleges and their students!

Mia Blakemore |Student with Oxbridge

Seventeen-year-old Mia Blakemore is young but extremely ambitious. When she finished secondary school in May 2019, she was ready to turn her passion for teaching into a career, so she enrolled on our Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning during her summer break. However, this was no easy decision for Mia. Suffering with anxiety and mental health problems due to setbacks in her childhood, Mia struggled throughout school, and felt overwhelmed with the thought of going to college to get her teaching qualification. After seeking professional help, it was agreed that the best step for her was to enrol on a distance learning course instead. This would give her the time she needed to focus on her own wellbeing, whilst gradually adjusting to the working world during her placement. This was the best decision Mia could have made, both for her mental health and her personal development, as she is now a qualified teaching assistant working in a primary school, and she loves it! On top of this, she’s studying a BA Honours Primary Education degree with The Open University, continually aiming higher and making progress every day. We’d like to nominate Mia for the ADLC certificate of merit, because as a young student she has shown the most passion, determination, and development throughout her time studying with Oxbridge.

Commenting on her favourite part of the course, Mia said, “I loved learning about the strategies and techniques used to support children with different learning abilities. Based on the help I’ve received in the past, adapting my teaching to students’ needs is something I feel passionate about because I know it can make all the difference.” This is wonderful, because it shows that Mia has both applied the knowledge we’ve taught her about SEN, and the life experience she’s gained from having additional help throughout her childhood, to focus on helping other children. Often, it’s personal experiences that enable teachers to have that extra empathy needed to truly reach and connect with young pupils, and Mia has found a way to make this her strength. What’s more, her students agree… Mia said, “I loved working with my year two class on my placement, and on one occasion, a child pulled me aside and whispered, ‘thank you for helping me learn, you’ll make a lovely teacher one day,’ and those are moments I will always cherish. I’ve learnt to believe in my own ability despite my early doubts, now that I know how rewarding teaching is!”

The class teacher Mia worked with on her placement, Mrs Katy Valentine, was asked to write regular witness statements to support her progress. Halfway through Mia’s course, the teacher said: “Mia has taken on a great deal of personal development this year. Her confidence in her own abilities is really shining through and she is working more and more independently. She works alongside other TAs and takes the initiative to support both myself and the other teacher in year 2. Mia has started to shadow a TA who provides intervention in English and maths in the afternoons. This is initially to support her professional development with the aim being that she will eventually be able to lead similar interventions on her own.” With each witness statement, Mia took on more responsibilities and grew more confident in her role.

As a distance learning provider, we’re delighted to have supported Mia in fulfilling her dreams, however, the credit is hers alone, as she fought her own personal battles to achieve success. Looking back, Mia said, “I still experienced mental health setbacks throughout my course, (it didn’t just go away), and there were days that I felt like I’d never qualify. But in those moments, I turned to my tutor, my family, and friends. They gave me such amazing encouragement and support to carry on and then it just got easier. For me personally, it was always a lack of confidence that held me back. I knew it was something I needed to overcome, not just to finish my course but to be successful in teaching. In the past year, I’ve really focused on that, and I know my strength is my ability to make a difference to children’s learning. I’ve become better at being part of a team and colleagues have described me as determined, driven, and made for this career. Now, I can honestly say that I believe I’m on the right path, I believe I’m good at what I do, and I believe in myself. Some days I cannot believe how far I’ve come; I’m growing as a person every single day. It feels so surreal, but I adore my job. I’ve learned I can be whoever I want to be regardless of my childhood difficulties. Being Miss Blake is my favourite thing!”

Once Mia graduates from The Open University, she aims to move up in her career so that she can teach unsupervised, and this is her aim for 2021. With so much ambition and drive to make her goals a reality, Mia is on track to become a qualified primary teacher by the age of twenty-one. She has grown from a student who couldn’t face going to college, to a confident, inspiring, and qualified teaching assistant, in just one year.