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Wahida Pervaiz

FdSc Psychology for Education Professionals

I started the Foundation degree in 2010 as a part time student and went on to do a BEd at the Institute of Education, which I completed in December 2014.

I was born in Azad Kashmir, part of a disputed area in Pakistan, and my family migrated to Germany when I was three.  We arrived in the UK in 1986, where I started secondary school education. I completed my A-levels in 1994 and very soon after got married, so did not have the opportunity to continue my education. In 1995, I had the first of my three children.

I held various part time jobs, but became interested in classroom teaching. I started as a bilingual teaching assistant working across Hertfordshire in primary and secondary schools. My next role involved working with schools and families, delivering bespoke courses enabling parents to work with schools to promote their child’s education. I thoroughly enjoyed this and felt rewarded when parents became interested in developing their own skills as well as their children’s.

In 2010, I developed my skills further through working on a project, ‘Learning and Refugee Families’ (LARF), with other agencies. At this point in my professional life, and having worked with diverse learners, I felt the need to gain further insights into education and learn for my own professional development, to gain a wider viewpoint. I wanted to have an academic understanding alongside my practical experience, and to learn more so that I could continue making a difference. My children were older and I had a stable job so the idea of returning to education grew.  I thought ‘if I don’t do it now, I never will!’

After exploring a few courses, the Foundation degree in Psychology for Education Professionals at Birkbeck really appealed to me.

The course was wonderful and inspiring. However, taking notes, writing essays and reading research papers and books after 16 years was a challenge. I often struggled with juggling everything, especially family demands and work.  At times I thought of leaving, but the subject interest and tutors’ support enabled me to continue. I felt more confident the following year, and the work-based learning module brought my work and my academic study together, which I really enjoyed. The ‘working with families and professionals’ module helped me to reflect on my professional practice, and I was constantly using examples from my work in class and in my assignments. I was pleased to have returned to education - it all fell into place. I finally reached my last year and was pleased with my effort and outcome.

When I started at Birkbeck I wanted a qualification to support my work, but after I completed the Foundation degree I felt I had more understanding of what children’s education really is, and felt more knowledgeable, so I wanted to progress further. I chose the top-up Bachelor of Education degree at the Institute of Education (IoE); it was another step up and a further enhancement of my learning, for myself.

Getting my degrees has given me additional skills as well as knowledge and status. Birkbeck gave me that confidence, both professionally and as a student. And now I don’t want to stop! In September 2015 I hope to start a Master’s degree with the IoE. My family have been a great support; all my children want to go to university and education is highly regarded in my family. I feel I have been able to set a good example in my community, as there are a few more Muslim women and girls accessing education. I would like to continue encouraging other people to follow their passion for education, regardless of their age, gender, race or commitments.

I now work as a learning support adviser at West Herts College, helping students with special educational needs. Everything I learned doing my degree has contributed to my profession and is used in my work.

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'My children were older and I had a stable job so the idea of returning to education grew.  I thought "if I don’t do it now, I never will"!'