Early Years BA Hons: Taylor Challis's Story at University Centre South Essex

Taylor shares her higher education journey and the support and guidance available whilst studying

My name is Taylor Challiss, I am 27 years old and I am studying a BA (hons) in Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex until Summer 2022, and this is my story.

I had worked as an LSA in primary schools since I was 18 and while I had been offered the opportunity to study to become a teacher, I had turned this down numerous times as I felt that the didactic teaching practices that I was observing were not how I would like to teach.

I had a passion for working with children, but I also had a passion for Sport and Physical Education and was keen to inspire young people to enjoy PE. Initially I began a Sports degree at the University Centre in 2015, but my health led to me deferring this degree. I did not let go of my dreams there, I worked on accepting my health/disabilities and began volunteering and then working in primary schools as an LSA. 

The last school I worked in as an LSA introduced me to ‘in the moment planning’ as an approach to teaching, which allowed me to relate to the teaching practices I was observing and inspired me to sign up for this degree at University Centre South Essex.

I have a young daughter and therefore could not travel far to a bigger university campus and I had to be able to organise childcare around the course, therefore University Centre South Essex was perfect for my situation. I am also deaf so the smaller class sizes and classes/lecture halls were a suitable environment for lipreading, while allowing me to keep up and ask for clarification where needed.

Since starting this degree, I have found my passion for learning, that had gotten a little lost the longer I had been out of education. Now, I enjoy the academic challenges again and find the module content interesting. Alongside this, my confidence in my own ability has grown over the course of this degree so far, and I now look forward to developing further academically, professionally and in confidence as the course progresses.

I have gained more skills than I can list including, increased self-confidence, improved presenting skills and report and essay writing skills which have helped increase my confidence in writing other official emails and letters. This is benefitting me in many areas of life improving professional practice, social skills and confidence outside of the classroom.

University Centre South Essex has supported me from the very beginning of the application process to this degree, with the Disabled Students team supporting me to access the right equipment and support needed for me to gain the most from the course despite my disabilities. The student services team have supported me with essay writing and emotional wellbeing, and course tutors have ensured I have felt supported and included throughout the course.

My greatest achievement so far is simply persevering (with the support of University Centre South Essex) through all of the obstacles that have presented themselves to me individually so far, and through the obstacles faced by the student population as a whole throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

I hope to start my master’s degree in September 2022, then progress on to either teaching in primary education or possibly to teaching higher education. Previously, I would never have considered teaching at higher education level, however during the process of this degree I have realised that by using this alternate career path I could inspire more teachers, who will then continue on to help change the British education system for the better positively influencing more children’s lives than I would be able to as a Primary School Teacher.

To learn more about the Early Years degree programme, visit: Early Years Education BA (Hons) | South Essex College

If you are yet to apply for a university course, learn more about our course through Clearing by visiting: www.southessex.ac.uk/clearing