Nicholas Henderson studied a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Advanced Practice in Working with Children and Families at The North West Regional College. Read on to find out about his journey to kickstarting his career in teaching.

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My journey into teaching

I began my journey to become a teacher in 2014 at The North West Regional College (NWRC) in Northern Ireland. After completing my A levels I was really struggling to decide what I wanted to do next; I was not ready to start university yet, however I did not want to move away from education. I needed to find a course that would provide me with the right skills to enter the workforce.

Completing my HND and work experience

I found the BTEC Higher National Diploma in Advanced Practice in Working with Children and Families, which was a great fit for me. The qualification took me two years to finish and effectively prepared me for university and work life. During the course I was able to complete a work experience placement as a classroom assistant in a primary school, which gave me the practical and hands-on experience that I needed and continue to use today.  

Through gaining practical experience it allowed me to see how schools work and gave me confidence working with children. Firstly, I was able to develop my communication skills with both adults and children. Secondly, working as a classroom assistant allowed me to shadow other teachers and assistants and learn how to interact and teach children to develop behaviour management skills. Lastly, during my placement I improved my organisation abilities by preparing resources for the teacher I was shadowing. These skills have helped me in my studies and my teaching career, enabling me to keep on top of all coursework and paperwork deadlines.  

Nicolas Henderson

Topping up to gain a degree

After finishing my HND in 2016, I then progressed onto further study with the BSc (Hons) in Early Childhood Care, Health and Education, where I was able to get my degree so I could move on to my final stages of becoming a teacher.  

I was fortunate enough to continue these further two years of study at the same college where I completed my HND, which helped make the transition to degree-level study much easier. I decided to stay with the NWRC as I knew the staff and it was great to be able to study from home. The encouragement and support from my tutors were outstanding.  

Furthermore, both my HND and work experience also helped with my degree work as I used the placement as part of my assignments. The lecturers were very helpful; they really pushed me to gain my full potential. They knew what I could do even before I could, and without their support I would not be where I am today.

Joining the workforce

Once I had gained my HND and degree, I moved on to the PGCE (Early Years). This was a one-year course which was very intense, however the intensity of the PGCE prepared me for teaching life, which can be very full on. I have since worked across several different schools teaching children between 4-11 years old.  

I have now been teaching for 3 years and I am in a job that I love. I enjoy having my own classroom and teaching lessons through fun, meaningful ways. My HN has opened a lot of opportunities for me, and as it was local, I was able to complete placements close to me, meaning that schools in the local area know me and my skill set.

Find out more about my journey to becoming a teacher and how my experience enabled me to start my career in something I am passionate about.

Aiming Higher with my BTEC Higher National
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