Venessa's Story

Venessa found it difficult to balance studying for her diploma, working at a placement and dealing with a part-time job. Thankfully she was able to receive a grant from us that took some of the pressure off and allowed her to focus on her studies.

Picture of Venessa Lewis

I have worked with children in many different settings. I quickly found I preferred a school setting and qualified as a level 3 teaching assistant where I became very interested in the psychology behind education. I wanted to understand why we learn the way we do and enrolled onto a psychology degree at the University of South Wales.

My degree gave me experience in using a variety of research methods but I found little change in my education practice. There were still many issues facing education systems such as problem behaviour interrupting classroom learning, or a lack of understanding on how to develop specific skills with a child who has additional learning needs.

My need for evidence-based practice lead me to complete my masters in Behaviour Analysis and Therapy, achieving a distinction in 2016. This gave me the theory in behaviour analysis but I wanted to explore this more and apply the theory. In order to do this, I went on to study a postgraduate diploma in Behaviour Analysis Supervised Practise.

Juggling study and work has been demanding and draining

Throughout all my education roles and studies, I have worked at Gregg’s part-time to earn a small income, increasing hours over holidays to ensure I have a regular income. Recently, I also enrolled with a teaching agency to do supply cover teacher work and long term support roles for children with special educational needs to ensure my finances are manageable.

Currently, I have a supervised practice placement for approximately 20 hours a week alongside some additional coursework. I am finding it difficult to pay my fees and have a decent quality of living. If I am not working towards my diploma, I am working at a school or in Greggs to pay the fees and get by. It’s draining.

It was only through a Facebook post that I found out about the Training and Development fund provided by Education Support Partnership. I was so lucky to come across it as the support I have received has been phenomenal!

I have been awarded a grant of £3000 which was a huge relief as it is such a significant contribution towards the cost of my course. It means I can consider things I haven’t been able to before. For example, I now feel able to attend conferences within the field of behaviour analysis, both financially and time wise, which is so important for keeping up to date with the latest research. I’ve always had an interest in my own learning and I want to develop that too.  

A weight has been lifted

For me personally, it has significantly reduced the stress of studying as I can have a better work-life balance. Being able to have Saturday’s off is having a big impact on my practise and learning as I can take time for myself. A real weight has been lifted.

The education sector needs more support like your Training and Development fund. The sector is facing so many challenges with increased cuts and low pay. It is positive that there is increased awareness of individual learning needs, however, this does mean that additional training is required by practitioners. But the funding just isn’t there!

Find out more

Find out about our Training and Development Fund and how you can apply.