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An Interview with Ceri Matty

Ceri Matty – NASENCO

Ceri has always had an interest in SEND, since she started her teaching career 18 years ago. It became more profound when her son was born in 2008 and as he started his school journey, his SEND needs became clear. He has had an EHCP since Year 2 (now in Year 9) and a diagnosis of ASD. His journey, as well as Ceri’s own teaching, led her progressively into more depth in the study of SEND. This enabled her to better meet her students’ needs in class as well as ensure her son gets the very best support from his school.

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

As a full-time middle leader (not the named SENCO) and parent of 2, Real Training was the obvious choice for me. The delivery solely online meant that I could work flexibly around my work/life, whilst still achieving the same accreditation as a course that had face to face delivery. It came highly recommended on SEND teaching support groups I follow. The use of the online network, whereby you can share your thoughts, ask questions and offer support was fantastic and I actively encourage
anyone using Real Training to utilise it.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

When I initially started, the course felt overwhelming. However, after reading advice from other delegates I quickly found that the organisation of the course and units were incredibly well structured. This was because the structure allowed me to work at my own pace and equally provided lots of links to online resources, articles and relevant legislation etc. My tutor was fantastic, available for email or telephone support when required and checked in when I had not logged in for a couple of weeks to see if I needed support. The course, once you get through the initial introduction unit, is incredibly easy to navigate. Tasks are progressive and provide a great mix of theory and practical opportunity. Strand 2 and 3, take time as you have to plan, implement and review projects within your setting, so I actively encourage delegates to look at these relatively early to plan into your year of study. As I work full time, I found it easiest to keep the actual assignment write-ups to the school holidays and use my face to face time to enhance my practical skills within the workplace.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Without hesitation, the support from the leadership team has been essential in the impact and outcomes. However, the knowledge that you develop enables you to motivate and enrich the learning of all staff within the school setting, which in turn enables them to support pupils with SEND. This ensures quality first teaching is at the forefront. SEND provision has and will continue to change based on the needs of those students in your setting – the course has made me realise that SEND is on an ongoing journey and I feel equipped with the tools and knowledge to ensure that the impact is not short term, rather sustained.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

It has helped me develop a much higher depth of knowledge and understanding of SEND and will allow me to continue to develop within the school setting and beyond, ensuring that we continue to meet the needs of all our SEND students.

 

An Interview with Anne Louise Davies

Anne Louise Davies – NASENCO

Anne is currently the Assistant Headteacher and SENCO at a mainstream 11-18 secondary school in Westbury, Wiltshire. When asked if she has any special interests in SEND, Anne explained “Dyslexia has become my most recent interest as I am interested in understanding more about phonological awareness and verbal memory”. Anne recently completed the NASENCO qualification with us at Real Training, read on to see how she found her time. 

What made you choose Real Training over other options? 

A colleague of mine had previously undertaken the NASENCO qualification through Real Training and had recommended it. It also appealed to me as it was online learning and the assignment completion dates had not been pre-set and therefore offered me a huge amount of flexibility.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

My experience of Real Training has been extremely positive and I have strangely really enjoyed the course and all the reading that was involved. It has been a long time since I have written an assignment but I found the whole process easier than I had imagined, due to the excellent structure and support from my amazing tutor Clare. When you first start the course it appears daunting but the ‘tick box’ approach to complete the different elements is very satisfying and the tracking tool that shows you how far through the course you are is also very motivational. 

Consequently, I have now signed up for the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (CCET) course. Even though the course is all online and I have not met my tutor I feel that the level of interaction has resulted in a relationship being established, her feedback was not only extremely helpful but was also provided promptly enabling me to make the necessary alterations while my research was still fresh in my memory. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has resulted in a complete re-working of our SEND provision. This started with the visit to my placement school where I discovered how they developed their TAs and also the types of intervention they had to offer. I was also able to improve publications that we had on our website, including the SEND Information Report so that they met the requirements of the Code of Practice. My leadership approach has also been reflected upon and has resulted in a style that has now empowered the Teaching Assistants and given them a greater sense of responsibility. Basically, everything that is now in place is down to this course. 

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has added substantially to the amount of educational research I have undertaken and has offered views and opinions that I would not previously have considered. The new knowledge has been applied to my setting to improve the quality of our SEND provision. It is also a reminder of the importance of keeping my SEN knowledge up to date through academic research. 

An Interview with Samantha Blackwood

SamanthSamantha Blackwooda Blackwood – NASENCO

Samantha works at a primary school in South Shields as the SENCO. Her special interest area of SEND is Autism. This is due to a noticeable increase in the number of students being diagnosed. Samantha is also interested in Dyslexia and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. Having completed the National Award for SEN Coordination with us earlier this year, you can see what Sarah had to say below. 

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

I chose this course because I was really keen on being able to do work in my own time. I needed something flexible that could fit in with my busy work and home life. Real Training really appealed to me as it offered exactly this. I had also seen lots of recommendations on Facebook SEND groups, explaining how easy it was to follow and that support was great.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The course fully met my expectations. I felt supported throughout and really loved the flexibility element. I found the way the course was structured very good. The layout of the module page was also easy to follow and use. I was supported throughout by the tutor and found the messaging tool very useful. The support from other students was great and I really liked the tasks where we were encouraged to comment on each other’s discussions. I really loved the bar at the top of the page, a great visual tool to allow me to ‘see’ how I was progressing. 

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has helped me to better understand SEND and the role of the SENCO. The modules have allowed me to identify the strengths of SEND in my setting and the areas of development. Creating an action plan was the best activity for me as it allowed me to prioritise areas to work on over the next year in the most effective way. I have already delivered some training to all staff on the Graduated Approach. I had a much better understanding of this after working through the modules. Meaning I felt very confident to deliver the training. Prior to the course, I would not have felt so confident with the topic. Clearly, I have learned a lot through the reading and research tasks that were set.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

It has helped me enormously. The leadership module strengthened my leadership skills. I feel the course has also led me to be successful in gaining the Deputy Head Role – which I will be starting this September. 

 

An Interview with Jessica Milnthorp – NASENCO

Jessica Milnthorp – NASENCO

Jessica has recently completed the National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO) with us at Real Training. Working in a mainstream primary school as the current SENCo/Inclusion Lead, Jessica says her special interest areas are Autism and SEMH. We wanted to hear more from Jessica about her time studying with us. Here’s what she had to say;

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Real training’s course offered lots of flexibility to study around other commitments such as work and family. The resources and recommendations available are invaluable and the tutors are always available to offer help and support. The forums gave me the opportunities to share and network with other SENDCos who understood the role and could offer further support and guidance.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I heard about Real Training through a recommendation from a colleague and the course lived up to my expectations. I really enjoyed completing the course and found Campus Online to be well organised and easy to follow. Being able to set my own deadlines enabled me to use my time effectively to complete the modules and progress at my own pace. Tutors offered help and support throughout the modules and I found the constructive feedback, given after the submission of learning logs and assignments, helpful in developing my knowledge and skills further by deepening my thinking.

I particularly liked the modules that required me to look closely at my own settings policies and procedures for SEND. Exploring how to adapt and improve these to be more effective. Therefore having a greater impact and improving the overall learning for our SEND pupils.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has given me the confidence to implement change within my school and offer CPD opportunities for staff to better support children with SEND in and out of the classroom. This has made SEND a priority within my setting. The biggest impact at school has been the implementation of a more child-centred approach and ensuring strong links and good communication between teachers, parents and the children.

This has had a positive impact on children’s learning through personalised provisions and teachers having a better understanding of needs. Achieved by breaking down the barriers to learning and planning using the best resources available to allow our children to thrive and succeed.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has strengthened my knowledge of SEND and given me the confidence to support others within my setting. It has allowed me to increase the status and importance of SEND and enabled me to support teachers. Providing them with a better understanding of the graduated approach. I will continue to improve the provision of SEND and allow the child and parents’ voices to be heard. I hope to give all learners the opportunities in life to achieve and aspire to be the best they can be. Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day.

Gillian Holland – NASENCO

An Interview with Gillian Holland – NASENCO

Gillian Holland is a music teacher and aspiring SENCO, currently working at an international school in Malaysia. Although she is interested in all aspects of SEND, most recently, Gillian has found herself studying Dyslexia in greater detail. Stating that her long term goal is to become an assessor, which she hopes will give her the ability to bring this skill ‘in house’ to the school in which she works. Having recently completed our NASENCO qualification, we caught up with Gillian to see how she got on. 

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Living in Malaysia, I was looking for a course that I could largely complete online. Having found Real Training through a google search, I felt that the online delivery of the content along with the accreditation of a UK university was the perfect match for me. When exploring the course content in more detail I was really impressed with the depth covered and the variety of activities involved in the qualification. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

I have really enjoyed studying with Real Training and found the whole process of Campus Online straightforward and easy to navigate. I liked that the tasks were varied, but that you didn’t have to complete them in a specific order. This really helped me to make progress as it allowed me to complete tasks based on the timeframe I had available and make use of this effectively. I thought there was a good balance of ‘work based’ tasks involving some level of interaction with an aspect of school life, and research focused tasks asking for an opinion on a given text or concept. I also felt thoroughly supported by my tutor, Rachel, and knew that she was always at the end of a message thread if there was something I needed help with. The course exceeded the expectations I had and I would definitely use Real training for further studies.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Two projects I thoroughly enjoyed were the final assignments for Strand 2 and 3. Both of these allowed me to explore something relevant to the setting I work in. As an aspiring SENCO, this was hugely important as it gave me valuable experience in the development of an aspect of school life. Helping me to consider ways in which I would approach this if I were a SENCO. In one of these tasks, I looked at the transition between KS2 and KS3 and found ways to develop a potential action plan to improve this for future learners. As an all-through school, I was able to look at both sides of the transition point and reflect on what is needed to ensure that SEND learners were able to move through to the next stage in their education with as much support and preparation as necessary.

The second area I explored was the movement of SEND learning and pedagogy to online platforms as a result of the pandemic. Being able to research something so relevant was interesting and it was a great way to explore best practice from many different settings and countries across the world. I was able to use this and bring together ideas to adapt to my current school.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

I was initially apprehensive when I began the course as my last period of high-level studying was 10 years prior when I completed my PGCE. However, the way the course is organised really helped me to ease back into this process and there was so much support available to ensure that my writing and work was to the level required for a Masters. My original plan was to just complete my NASENCO qualification, yet the course and the content have encouraged me to look beyond this to explore further options for my professional development. After much consideration, I have decided to work towards my Masters in SEND. I have just started my Level 7 Structured Intervention in Literacy and Dyslexia with Real Training’s sister company ‘Dyslexia Action’ and then I plan to return to Real Training to complete the ‘Enquiry-based SEN’ to complete my Masters. The decision on which route to take was difficult as there is so much choice available to you, but after emailing the team at Real training and discussing my options I am really happy with the decisions that I have made. 

Nick Wilding – MEd SEND

An Interview with Nick Wilding – MEd SEND

Nick Wilding is the Head of Student Support Services at an international school in Vietnam. Beginning his studies with Real Training in 2017, Nick embarked on our National Award for SEN Coordination course. A couple of years later this was followed by the Enquiry-based SEND module. Since then Nick has completed some of our free to access courses as well. Nick says that his special interests in SEN are; awareness, assessment and knowing the whole child, partnerships with specialist teams and development of staff. To see what Nick made of his time studying with Real Training please see below.

 

What made you choose Real Training over other options?

Initially, I chose Real Training because of its links with Middlesex University. I had studied previously at this university and therefore knew that the qualifications would be both recognised and credible. At the time I was working internationally and therefore required a course delivered 100% online. The costs were very competitive and the responses to my questions in the decision phase helped me decide that I should register and sign up because all of my questions and queries were answered clearly, quickly and sincerely.

The NASENCO award through Real Training became the obvious choice compared to other providers as they met my fundamental requirements. Due to the advice and support of the course leaders and tutors, the decision to study further with Real Training was made easy due to their expertise and the range of subject-specific courses. The Courses and Qualifications page on their website is like a ‘one-stop shop’ for a career in SEND provision.

Subsequently, my experiences have led me to recommend Real Training to many colleagues both in the UK and internationally.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The first tutor feedback I received was both supportive and demanding. This set the tone for the academic standards. I was delighted that this was going to be a ‘real’ Post Graduate course and not a ‘pay your money, get your certificate’ style course.

It had been so long since I had written academic essays therefore the readily available access to advice on the Campus Online page, emails with tutors and online tutorials with the tutor were invaluable. The response time of tutors and support with Campus online helped with the momentum of my studies. I wasn’t able to study regularly each week so it was great that they were responsive when I most needed it.

I chose an online course to fit in and around my work and life. I must say the tutors and the design of the course allowed this flexibility. The setup of the course page allowed me to pick up where I had left off so I could clearly see what I had and hadn’t completed.

The links provided through all courses were essential to my success and to keep stress levels down. Living abroad limited my access to many texts and websites. Access to  EBSCO, the library and Campus Buzz were all sources that provided me with the range of knowledge required to pass the academic requirements of the course but to also feel that I had read extensively around the subject areas for personal growth also.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Firstly, it has kept me motivated in my career during a phase of questioning where I should go next. The ability to build my course to include areas of interest in addition to fundamental courses for anyone involved at the front line of SEND provision and the push for inclusion.

The NASENCO course allowed me to go back to basics and ask myself ‘why do I do this’, ‘what is the purpose of my role in this setting’. Moving on from these starting points, the course also allowed me to use experience combined with ongoing research and legislation. I believe this gave me a platform on which to improve my own working practices and school policy and procedures.

The research project that forms the Enquiry-based SEND module, has allowed me to appreciate the correct procedure to carry out and implement change within a setting. My project evolved around the need to improve staff awareness, confidence and training when working with a growing range of SEND within the school. The final project focussed on TA staff. Subsequently, individuals and small teams have taken on extra training linked to the following: PE lessons, assessment, observations and working with parents. 

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

As the role of SENCO evolves it was essential to my career that I studied and passed the NASENCO course. The Access Arrangements and the Middle Leaders courses have allowed me to keep up to date and refreshed in these areas with the latter being the stimulus for the school to encourage a number of middle leaders to follow this course to bring more joined-up thinking in the school with regards to SEND and EAL students.

The research-based project has widened my appreciation of the purpose and importance of research to provide solid evidence which can be woven with experience and the needs of the setting with regards to training and change in a school. Therefore, the course has opened more opportunities for me when applying for roles in both academic and pastoral pathways

Finally, as the courses are validated by Middlesex University London and the Professional Assessment Programme courses and qualifications also adhere to the standards set by the British Psychological Society (BPS), I am convinced that future courses targeting Psychology and Social/Emotional pathways will play a part in my training to help me evolve, explore and create wellbeing projects in the future. 

Heather Blackburn – NASENCO

An Interview with Heather Blackburn – NASENCO

Heather Blackburn is a busy lady at her current school working as; Associate Assistant Principal, Head of Performing Arts, PE and Health and SENCO on the inclusion team. Heather states that as she has been learning she is gaining specific interests in; autism, attachment, dyslexia and ADHD. Working in a mainstream secondary school in North Yorkshire, Heather recently completed her NASENCO qualification with Real Training.  Learn more about Heather Blackburn  – NASENCO delegate learning journey below. 

What made you choose the Real Training course over other options?

Real Training has been recommended to me by others. However, the fact that it was online and could be completed at times to suit me was also an appealing feature of Real Training’s course delivery. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

It was very hard starting academic essays after 20 years. However, my tutor was very supportive and gave me lots of pointers. I enjoyed the course as it gave me enough background into SEN, alongside looking at local and national data. I also enjoyed the fact that I could produce PowerPoint presentations for assignments.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

The course has allowed me to make an impact at school as my understanding of specific areas surrounding SEN has improved greatly. For example, how to use the code of practice and the legal side of SEN along with the inclusion of parents and students at all stages. I have also been able to implement improved CPD for teaching assistants. Lastly, I now have a much greater knowledge of how to set up and develop sensory circuits which are having a positive impact on those children with additional needs.

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course gave a great deal of background detail into SEN and the changes that have occurred over time. It gave me much better insight into parents’ feelings and how important it is to ensure the needs of a child are met in mainstream schools. Schools have a legal responsibility to consider the equality and disability act and to ensure they don’t cause unnecessary distress to children with SEN. I feel my understanding of the impact of reasonable adjustments and how necessary they are for some children has developed. The course also gave a greater understanding of the graduated approach and how this should be shared with all teachers. Alongside, how SEN is the responsibility of all staff and not just the SENDCO.

David Griffiths – NASENCO & CPT3A

 

David Griffiths An Interview with David Griffiths  – NASENCO & CPT3A

David Griffiths completed the Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements course (CPT3A) in 2019. He has since also completed our National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO). David is currently the SENCO of a secondary school in the Midlands, he has a keen interest in psychometric testing and SEND. Read below to see how David felt about his time studying both these courses with Real Training. 

What made you choose Real Training courses over other options? 

Real Training was recommended to me in a SENCO network meeting. I did some research on the course, assessment material and previous student experiences. Based on what I had read, it definitely sounded well organised and suitable for my learning style.

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

Overall, it went above and beyond my expectations. I chose the intensive route to complete CPT3A. The face to face content was excellent and really useful. The tutors were supportive, knowledgable and friendly. Everything was explained clearly and I received excellent feedback. Whilst studying NASENCO I found my tutor was really helpful and encouraging throughout. I received clear and concise feedback, regarding how to approach each assignment and meeting the assignment criteria. I was undoubtedly impressed and have since recommended Real Training to all of my colleagues and friends. 

How have the courses helped make an impact at school? 

Completing the CPT3A qualification has allowed me to conduct psychometric testing for Examination Access Arrangements. Resulting in better support for the pupils and broadening my skill set within the school. 

How have the courses helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

Studying with Real Training has strengthened my knowledge of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. 

An Interview with Priya Shah – MEd SEND

Priya Shah

We caught with Priya Shah who completed her Master of Education in Special Education Needs and Disabilities with us.

What does graduating from this course mean to you on a personal and a professional level?

On both a personal level and a professional level, acquiring an M.Ed in SEND after 22 years as a teacher has really raised my confidence in general, whether it be listening for the sake of listening to gain all perspectives of an idea or argument, or responding after critically analysing the information (in oral or written form, or writing professional reports, or carrying out action research, etc.

What made you choose the Real Training courses over other options?

I was looking to gain membership on Register for Qualified Test Users (RQTU) with the British Psychological Society (BPS). I found the CPT3A course online. As I work overseas, Real Training offered a user-friendly online platform and the turn-around time for replies to emails or queries was very quick. Also, I found that all the tutors I had were educational psychologists which have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge, experience and wisdom. The school that I work in then approached me and encouraged me to continue courses to achieve a Masters. And so I did!

What was your experience of learning with Real Training?

The online platform was easy to use and the readings and videos were relevant to my work, thus the experience of learning was pleasant and interesting yet very rigorous. The amount of work to be done was vast but manageable once one gets organized.

How have the courses helped make an impact at school?

I have used the skills of administering standardized tests and writing reports for external exam boards from the CPT3A course and the students have thus benefitted from exam access accommodations.

I have utilized the knowledge and skills from the NASENCO course for my role as the Learning Support Case Manager of grade 11 and 12 and as the untitled team leader of our Learning Support department in the high school and work very closely with the Student Support Services Coordinator of the school as well as the grade level leaders who manage the Response to Intervention framework.

The Social, Emotional Learning course was a great learning experience and the knowledge gained has enhanced my skills as a teacher and advisor. It has been particularly useful in these unusual times of COVID-19 when we went virtual.

The Enquiry-based research module was excellent as I got exposure to action research and got to investigate the efficacy of an online math intervention in terms of raising mathematical resilience of students with needs in an international setting using the RADIO framework. This has helped me as a co-teacher in math classes.

How have the courses helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

My personal goal next academic year is to develop Social Emotional Learning in all my work in school, especially as we return to the school building on September 1st after the virtual learning environment since March 23rd. I have already started a virtual Meditation course for students for our optional summer school. As a lifelong learner, I am learning more and more about meditation and how it helps both professionally as a teacher and in my personal life as well.

How has the experience changed your view on continued professional development for your own career?

This experience has made me see that I can step out of my comfort zone in terms of professionally developing my own career. As all my tutors have been educational psychologists, I feel like I am ready to take the next step and pursue a doctorate in educational psychology. I completed my BSc (Hons) Psychology in the UK in 1993 and wanted to become an educational psychologist after that. In those days one also had to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and a minimum of 2 years of teaching before applying for a Masters in Educational Psychology. I became a teacher and loved it so much that I stuck to it for 22 years. Now things have changed. One does not need to be a qualified teacher to pursue a career as an educational psychologist in the UK but one does need some experience with working with children or young people and then one pursues a 3-year Doctorate in Educational Psychology. As I do not live in the UK anymore and have responsibilities of taking care of a family overseas, I cannot go to the UK to train as an educational psychologist at the moment. I have yet to find a rigorous blended online course to fit my needs to pursue a course that will qualify me as an educational psychologist. My only wish now is that Real Training develops an online program that one can pursue to qualify as a working educational psychologist. If they do, I would have no hesitation in taking it up!

Emma Gray – NASENCO

 

Emma Gray

An Interview with Emma Gray – NASENCO

Emma Gray is currently the Learning Support Teacher in an international private school in Singapore, working mainly across Key Stage One. She has special interests in social, emotional communication and profiles consistent with ASD traits. Emma completed the NASENCO qualification with us at Real Training in 2020. Here is what she had to say about her time studying with us.

What made you choose the Real Training  NASENCO course over other options?

Real Training had a great reputation amongst colleagues for delivering high-quality and easily accessible online learning programmes. Being able to dip in and out of the course depending on my own schedule was a real selling point for me. Working in an international school in Asia, the course appealed to me as a way of keeping a handle on relevant policy, procedure and current best practice in the UK around SEND. 

What was your experience of learning with Real Training? 

My tutor was incredibly supportive when I requested extensions partway through the course. Feedback has been positive and constructive and this has motivated me to do better and develop further. My questions were always responded to in a timely manner, no matter how obtuse they seemed! I especially enjoyed being a part of the forums, collaborating and discussing issues linked to SEND globally, with a diverse group of delegates was a very worthwhile and enlightening experience.

How has the course helped make an impact at school?

Completing the NASENCO course has enabled me to feel confident about the provision that I am organising in my setting. I have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to liaise between class teachers, parents and external specialists in order to better support pupils with SEND. The course involved Applied Practice tasks which gave me the opportunities to apply new learning to my setting and served as a platform on which to engage in professional dialogue around SEND. As our school’s curriculum is based on the British curriculum the course has enabled me to stay abreast with best practice in the UK. 

How has the course helped develop you as an educational professional and what do you hope to achieve with the new knowledge/skills in the future?

The course has given me a qualification required to carry out the SENCO role in the UK. As well as becoming well versed in the legal and practical components of SEND practice I have also become aware of the degree of emotional intelligence needed to carry out the role effectively and have a greater appreciation of the diversity that SEND encompasses. Studying at Masters level has been a challenge that has reignited my own love of learning and I now intend to continue to study further.