WEA Tutor Spotlight: London Region

Q&A with Allison McClean

Our tutors are the driving force behind our courses – supporting our students on their journey of learning and getting into work. Meet Allison McClean, one of our dedicated and passionate tutors, who teaches the Level 1 and Level 2 Helping in Schools course. We sat down with Allison to find out more about the course, the students and her experience as a tutor.

What inspired you to become a tutor? 
I started my career back in 1990. My role as a tutor began after training day care providers, where I shared my knowledge of how to support children. I love it when I see learners on a basic course progress to the next stage and achieve their goals. 

How long have you been working for WEA?
I have been working for the WEA for 15 years and specialise in family learning, parenting and healthy eating. It’s a great role that has enabled me to work within different communities. 

What students have you worked with? 
I am based in London and have worked across Enfield, Hackney, Islington and Haringey. I work with a diverse mix of students who are 99.9% women with a few men who tend to be dads. They are usually people who have had negative experiences of their own education and are typically on low income. 

Some of the students have degrees in other countries, which are not compatible with the education in the UK – so they are looking to develop their learning. After having children, students are inspired to want to work in schools and nurseries. Plus a lot of students are looking to study to meet their own personal goals. I have also worked with parents who have children with special needs, so they join my course to support their children and develop their skills further. 

Why do you think your students choose your course? 
My courses help build and strengthen students so they can help in their community. Many of my students are driven to book my course so they can support their own children. Some students are simply passionate about volunteering with children. They are in search of personal development, getting back into work and want a qualification related to child care. Other students have a totally different career and they feel my course suits them based on where they are in their life. The aim for most students is to achieve Level 2 which will help them get employment. 

What have been your highlights working for WEA? 
I enjoy it when other tutors get together and share good practise. Plus, the opportunity to travel around London adds variety to my role. 

My highlights also include my experience with key students:
Student #1: 10 years ago – I worked with a student who was from Colombia and her first language was Spanish. She came to complete the level 2 course and she initially struggled because of the language barrier. Through my support, she was able to get job at a local school. A year later this same student called me and mentioned how she always remembered how I encouraged and inspired her – so much so that we formed a close friendship. 

Student #2: My son’s child minder joined the course and English was not her second language – so I helped and explained the course to her. She progressed from level 2 to 3 - then helped in school and even completed a degree in education. She now works for the NHS Trust, focusing on early year’s assessment. I am so pleased to have helped her on this journey and I feel I have made a big difference. 

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