Originally from New Zealand, but now living in Bootle, Millom, Jane’s route to success has been a tough one. Living in West Cumbria she travelled the 130-mile round trip to attend the lectures in Lancaster for three years. This meant getting up at 5.30am to arrive on time for a 9.00am lecture and frequently having to stay for late lectures and arriving home around 8pm - and then repeating the same schedule the next day.
Jane supported herself and her son financially throughout this time, working a minimum of 16 hours per week. During block placements, working as a full-time classroom teacher with all of the related responsibilities, she had to work seven days a week; Monday to Friday at school and then at a pub at the weekends. A very hectic and tiring schedule!
Then, in January 2012 she suffered a recurrence of Graves Disease, the symptoms of which include increased heartbeat, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep, and fatigue. This made Jane’s struggle to get her teaching qualification even more challenging. She told us:
“I remember falling asleep in a lecture and falling off my chair – it wasn’t funny at the time, although I think it is hilarious now!”
At the start of her final year the course fees were raised to £9000 and as if that wasn’t enough to deal with, in the final term of her third year Jane became very ill with a bad bout of flu. Having applied for and been accepted for ‘extenuating circumstances’, she submitted three of her assignments, although in her opinion they were incomplete - and all were awarded A grades.
In the end Jane has been awarded a first-class honours degree, with her lowest grade being 70% and she is justly proud of her achievements. She believes that her marks do reflect the many hours spent early in the morning before work, and the many long days committed to achieving her best.
Jane feels positive about the future: “Now I’ve completed my degree I will achieve a much better work / life balance and my health will reflect this and improve. I’m also delighted to say that I have been appointed to a full-time teaching post, only fifteen minutes from my front door, in the school in which I completed my first placement.”
For information on undergraduate and postgraduate teaching courses at the University of Cumbria go to www.cumbria.ac.uk