Resilient and remarkable women

Christina, Emma, Sarah, Sarah, and Tanja were on their Teaching Assistant Course when lockdown began and learning moved online. While most students paused their study, they stayed with the course and achieved their Level 2 Certificates. It would have been easy for them to walk away, but they supported each other through to the end. 

I think they will make great teaching assistants.

The WEA works in partnership with a children's centre in South Tyneside and we offered a course to parents to help them become teaching assistants. This was a face-to-face course, starting in January 2020, and then COVID hit, which scuppered everybody’s plans. The teaching moved online, which caused most learners to pause their study, because they didn’t have the digital skills or access, or perhaps the headspace, with all that was going on.  

Christina, Emma, Sarah, Sarah, and Tanja were determined to continue and we worked quickly to get them set up on Canvas and Zoom, with only basic digital skills. The students all home-schooled their children and had to cope with lockdown and their children's mental health. Some are single parents living in poverty. Some lost relatives during the pandemic. They had to work late into the night, often using their mobile phones to finish the course.  

They stuck with it and achieved their Level 2 Certificates. I was so impressed by the way they supported each other. It would have been easier for them to walk away - they were all coping with so much. But they were there for each other, every step of the way. They already had a WhatsApp group for support outside our sessions, but after lockdown they also set up a Zoom group and met each week to support anyone who was struggling, whether with study or emotional problems.  

I think they'll make great teaching assistants. To be honest, if they can get through that, they’ll get through anything. Not only have they learned new skills on the course, as well as making confident Zoom presentations, but they have also shown themselves to be very creative at teaching their children at home under pressure.  

They had starting thinking about their futures and making a life for themselves. COVID wasn’t going to get in the way. They wanted this qualification so badly as it will allow them to apply for jobs that will make a considerable difference to their families’ lifestyles. They are resilient and remarkable women, and it was a privilege to be their tutor. 

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