6th December 2016
A former Barking & Dagenham College student has become a teaching assistant after following his dream of working with children.
Simon Owusi, 21, from Dagenham has always had a passion for working with children, but didn’t think he had what it takes to make that dream become a reality. Having suffered the loss of his mother at just 12 years old and then coping with dyslexia at school, as he grew up he felt that he didn’t have what it took and felt held back. After persuasion from his teachers however, Simon decided to follow his heart and joined Barking & Dagenham College to study childcare.
As Simon explains: “It was a tough choice and I had to re-sit my maths and English GCSEs at the same time, but the College was so supportive that I was able to face any challenges I came up against and keep on going.”
His passion has clearly impressed. As part of the course’s work experience programme, Simon joined local nursery group, Barney Bears. Within three weeks he was offered a position with the company, a role he held for two years while continuing his studies. Alongside that, Simon has spent every Saturday as a support worker, working with children with special needs as part of the Disablement Association of Barking and Dagenham.
It’s this level of commitment that continues to astound his tutors and everyone he meets. Now having finished his studies, Simon has been snapped up as a Teaching Assistant at Ickburgh School, Hackney, a specialist school for children of all ages with severe or profound learning difficulties. It’s a job which he is really enjoying. As Simon says: “Because of my own past, I want to make sure I give back and help those without families and those who struggle. My job can be hard but it’s also really rewarding. No day is the same. I just love working with children, making them smile, making a difference in their life.”
It’s a career choice that is normally dominated by women and Simon would love to see that change. As he continues: “I hope more men will think about working with children as a good career option. They can be role models to young people, especially those who don’t have father figures at home. You can really make a difference.”
Simon is determined to continue in his career and his words of encouragement to those thinking about doing the same is to do it! “If you feel like you want to do something, then go for it. Keep on trying. If you have the passion and the patience the only thing that is stopping you is yourself.”