Lesley has worked at Northumberland College since 2006. Describing herself as determined, empathetic and nurturing, Lesley has more than 10 years’ experience supporting children, young people and families with complex needs.

I have received a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) Play Work and BA (Hons) Social Work as well as a Professional Graduate Diploma Post Compulsory Education, a Post Graduate Certificate Professional Practice and a Post Graduate Diploma Professional Practice.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and currently studying an MA in Education.

I have been employed by Northumberland College for almost 14 years and have worked in partnership with Northumbria University and the University of Cumbria to develop and deliver our Higher Education programmes aligned to working with children, young people and families.

I have worked with children and young people since my mid-teens when I began working for Social Services running holiday activity schemes for children and young people (aged 5-25 years) with disabilities and complex needs.

I continued this while studying my degree as well as working at the Northumberland Family Placement Team and with the Dene Centre in Newcastle.

After graduation I was lucky enough to secure immediate employment with NCH Action for Children to work in a residential children’s shared care resources centre, again working with children, young people and families with complex needs.

After 11 years of working in diverse and exciting roles within the organisation, managing, training and supervising staff teams as well as working directly with the children, their families and Social Services, I fell pregnant and needed to consider changing my job role to accommodate this.

It was at this point that I entered the teaching profession at Northumberland College, beginning as an Assessor and Sessional Teacher, I soon secured my role in higher education where I have been working ever since. During the past 12 years, working with Higher Education students, I have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction within the classroom, working with university partners and developing new HE programmes.

I am Programme Lead on the Foundation Degree Children’s Workforce Practice, BA (Hons) Childhood, Youth and Family Studies and pending Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) Working with Children and Families.

I plan the delivering of module content, managing the team and student groups across our Ashington and Berwick Campuses as well as monitoring quality assurance with university and external partners, developing new programmes, monitoring and reviewing student data and student support.

It was an accident! I had been a Trainer previously and transferred to the college as an assessor. Within one week, I was asked to cover a class of Level 1 Health and Social Care students and loved it. Two weeks later I was studying for my PGCE and have never looked back.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the younger students, but working in HE is a completely different experience. As a Lecturer you can really feel that you are making a difference to the children, young people and families of Northumberland and wider areas when you appreciate that the taught content is then embedded into the practice of 70+ students every year.

Working with the students face to face; seeing their progress as the engage in the learning and explore their practice to enable them to deliver to the highest standard and make a real difference to children, young people and families.

Graduation! When you work closely with your students, you build relationships and really get to know those enrolled on your courses.

Being adults, the challenges are very different but often very intense in terms of the issues they present with. When I see the students receiving their awards, knowing the extreme situations they have faced during their studies alongside the usual pressures of higher-level education, the sense of pride in them is immeasurable.

People. My own children, who have overcome intense issues to achieve as they have; my students who present with such tenacity to get to reach their goals; and colleagues who work tirelessly to provide the best opportunities possible for all students in our programmes.

Education enables individuals to aspire to be what they want to be, reach their goals and achieve their dreams while building relationships, networks and the skill base needed to be successful not only in a professional context but also in their life as a whole.

Every time I teach a group, if all of the students take just one thought, idea, concept and apply it to their practice to develop the quality of their work, then the impact is huge in terms of the children, young people and families they serve.

I started as a Catering Assistant in a cafe in Ashington when I was 15 before working in a nightclub in Newcastle while I studied for my degree.

The knowledge that they are making a real difference to children, young people and families who are often struggling given the current climate of rising pressures, mental health issues and reduced services.

Mr Scott, my English Teacher at Ashington High School at the age of 14. I was a painfully shy and quiet pupil and one comment made helped me to feel valued and capable.

His approach throughout my GCSE’s was positive and encouraging, focused on strengths rather than deficits and really did help me to grow my confidence. Without Mr Scott, I would never have had the confidence to apply for university after my A-Levels.

All anyone can ask is that you do your best in the situation you are in. If they are experiencing personal difficulties and finding it hard to continue studying, giving permission to lower the pressure and achieve at a lower level temporarily rather than walking away from all they have achieved so far is incredibly important.

Determined, empathic, nurturing.

You can do it! Don’t let insecurity hold you back from achieving your dreams and don’t judge yourself around other people’s expectations. They are right for them, not you.

Where will I be in five years’ time?

My timeline

  • 1997

    Began working with Action for Children in a residential shared care resource centre for children with complex needs.

  • 2005

    Birth of first child prompting career change

  • 2006

    Moved to Northumberland College

  • 2008

    Began leading higher education programmes

  • 2010

    Birth of my daughter

  • 2014

    Changed university partner from Northumbria University to the University of Cumbria – promoted stronger working partnerships and a more creative approach to programme design

  • 2017

    Securing my Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.