We had a chat with our learner of the year (November 2015) award winner, Michelle Jakeman to find out what inspired her to change her life and pursue her dream career.

“A series of life events made me change my career and my outlook on life. After a few meetings with a wonderful counsellor – life did not change overnight but over a period of 4 years.”


Michelle’s Story
When I left school at 17 with a few O Levels and GCSEs I started a career in banking, working from the bottom of the ladder and working up to a managerial position. I attended a number of good courses that were specific to my role but always felt that I was the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.”
My family were settled in respect of work and school, but I wanted more. I wanted qualifications and a job that made me feel more fulfilled.

Going to a counsellor at a life changing period gave me the confidence to study and I completed two Open University courses in something that was completely different to my career at the time. The first course was a short taster course. I enjoyed it so much I wrote to my daughter’s school and enquired about becoming a Teaching Assistant. I needed to get onto a Teaching Assistant course which became the catalyst for a radical financial and life change for me and my family. I couldn’t get onto the course unless I had a placement at a school as I needed practical as well as classroom experience. I couldn’t get a placement in a school with the job I was doing at the time which prompted a life-changing decision.

Making the decision to change my life
In July 2011, I came home and told my family I wanted to leave my job. I told them I wasn’t happy and wanted to be a Teaching Assistant. Just by saying those few words threw up lots of questions and financial considerations. 7 months later I left my job. My plan was to apply to my daughter’s school to get a placement for September 2013 and apply to college.

I was so disappointed to hear from the school that the placement had already been offered to someone else. It was the same situation at other schools I contacted in the area. The only solution for me to follow my dream at the time was to become a volunteer at the school and defer my plans until September 2014.

Securing a Teaching Assistant’s position
I made an appointment to see the Head Teacher to ask if I could become a volunteer at the school, Monday to Friday. Thankfully, my guiding experience put me in good stead and in the November 2013, I was volunteering and given a contract to work at the school which I was absolutely delighted with.

The next step was to study towards my Teaching Assistant Qualification. I did lots of research and found a qualification through an awarding body I was familiar with; City and Guilds. City College Peterborough was the only college in the area to offer the course in the evenings.This fitted in perfectly with work and family commitments and sold the course for me!


How the course has helped me
The course had a good mixture of theory and practice work together with observations. We did a few role plays which I had experience in from the past and was happy to take part in them too. It was great to study with likeminded people who wanted to learn with team spirit and encouragement. The course, Supporting Teaching and Learning Schools (Level 2) covered Policy, child development, professional relationships, leaning activities, positive attitudes and lots more.

I couldn’t have completed my course without my family’s support. They encouraged me to study towards the qualification and gave me time to sit down and complete my assignments with minimal interruptions. The course has given me a new thirst for learning and an appreciation of what students, mainly mums, with a busy work life and family commitments are capable of achieving. Job satisfaction, a happy home life and a happy future.

I know how much hard work I put into completing the course and it paid off thanks to the tutor, Liz Harper for her guidance, providing relevant information for the course, patience and giving me constructive feedback to boost my confidence and determination.

Michelle’s advice
Talk to your family and discuss what you and your family want and expect to get out of your studies. Get help with finance. You may event want to ask someone to contribute towards your course as a gift for birthday or Christmas. A day learning something which is of interest to you could start the next chapter of your life. What I like about City College Peterborough is that there is something for everyone. Don’t be scared – just try it. Nobody can criticize you for trying.

I wish I had pursued my career change earlier in my life. However, I do not have any regrets because I stopped procrastinating, signed up for the course and achieved my goals. Be honest with yourself and be good to yourself. I am a lot happier in my abilities and I have completed the course which inspired me to try other things.


If Michelle’s story has inspired you, why not get in touch with us today? Call us on 01733 761 361 or email admin@citycollegepeterborough.ac.uk or why not have a look at our great range of courses.