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Access course success stories

Head Teachers have Susan on speed-dial

Former student: Susan Osborne
Course: Access to Social Work 

“When I started back in education I didn’t have my GCSE Maths, but now Head Teachers listen to my advice and my phone never stops ringing with offers of work” 

says Susan Osborne, from Braintree, who is about to start her postgraduate MA in Special Needs Education at UEL. Here Susan explains how an Access course kick-started her new career as an Autism and Special Needs consultant.

“My first career was as a nurse, but that was before it was a graduate entry career. I’d lived abroad for a while, but on returning to the UK I decided to start again and came back into education.

“I was 44 when I enrolled at Barking & Dagenham College on the one-year Pre-Access course and did my GCSE Maths at the same time. Looking back on how far I’ve come, getting my GCSE Maths has been one of the high points. 

“After I year I moved on to the Access to Social Work and from there to UEL where I graduated with a 2:1 degree in Special Needs Education. I narrowly missed out on a First but, you know, university was an absolutely brilliant experience anyway.

“I now have a career as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specialist. There are more children than ever being diagnosed with ASD and associated conditions, and mainstream schools need experts, like me, to help them design holistic programmes so these children can learn and succeed. It’s a team effort but even the Head Teacher listens to my advice, because the knowledge of ASD in schools can be limited.”

For anyone thinking about aiming for a graduate-entry career via an Access course, Sharon gives this advice,

“Definitely do it. Just go to the college, throw yourself at their mercy and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s challenging, but if you keep on top of your work and don’t let it build up, you’ll be fine. You need to work hard but if you want it badly enough, you’ll do it.

“You’ll be studying alongside other adults, so you won’t feel like the odd one out. The Lecturers are great and it’s a partnership. I am still in touch with Modupe, one of my former Lecturers. She is brilliant and still at Barking & Dagenham College.”