Case study

Apprentice early years practitioner — Declan Hoskins

After completing the Modern Apprenticeship in Social Services (Children and Young People), Declan is now doing the Technical Apprenticeship in Social Services (Children and Young People) while working as third in charge at Bright Horizons' The Treehouse Early Care and Education Centre at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen

Why did you decide to do a Modern Apprenticeship?

When I received the results for my Scottish Highers, I was a little disappointed with my grades. Although I'd planned to go straight to the University of Aberdeen to study primary education, my results led me to consider an alternative path. However, once I started looking into apprenticeships, it was clear that it might be better suited to what I wanted to achieve in the long term, which was to progress to senior level within a nursery.

Through the Modern Apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at work. Reflecting on my learning every day meant that I was constantly building on my skills. I would never have gained the same insights into child development without doing the qualification while I was working.

How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship?

I found the apprenticeship with Bright Horizons through my apprenticeship training provider, Aberlour Futures. After I submitted my application, I was connected with Bright Horizons.

How did the Modern Apprenticeship work?

It took me around 16 months to complete and involved working in the nursery full time while completing self-study outside of working hours.

Due to the confidence my colleagues had in my ability since the beginning of my apprenticeship, my responsibilities have been fairly similar throughout my time at Bright Horizons, from being an apprentice to qualifying.

I'm responsible for providing relevant learning experiences for the children, ensuring observations are carried out and working in partnership with both parents and my colleagues to create the best possible environment for the children.

What did you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

Gaining real-world experience of working in a nursery is invaluable to your professional development in the early years sector.

The nature of my role meant that I was involved in numerous aspects of the day-to-day running of the nursery, which gave me more insight into the modules I was completing as part of my study. I think this made transitioning to my role as a fully-qualified nursery practitioner much easier, as I was far more confident in my abilities.

What did you find the most challenging?

Finding the time to manage your studies can be difficult but it's part and parcel of the apprenticeship. As you progress, you'll learn to manage your time more effectively and the knowledge you develop from being in the nursery full time far outweighs any negatives of arranging the study time.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role in the nursery has developed dramatically since I joined almost six years ago. I'm now third in charge, leading my own room which involves managing the routines for the children in my room.

I work closely with the nursery manager and deputy manager on the day-to-day running of the nursery, working together to ensure we're providing the best possible care and experience for the children.

I recently won 'Apprentice Ambassador of the Year' at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards for my work in mentoring foundation apprentice school pupils. I would like to continue my work in supporting apprentices in their training as I know first-hand how important a solid support network is.

I'm also planning to study the BA in Childhood Practice after I've completed my technical apprenticeship.

What advice would you give to others considering the apprenticeship route instead of university?

  • Don't be afraid to take a different route to what you'd originally planned - everything always works out in the end and you may end up in a better role than you could've imagined.
  • Make the most of the support available - being part of a team and having people who believed in me really improved my confidence. Reach out to your colleagues or your manager if you're struggling with anything and remember that everyone wants to see you succeed.
  • Have confidence and believe in yourself - I learned far more in a hands-on role than I would have at university, propelling me into a senior role within the nursery at a young age. Everything becomes natural to you before you're qualified, allowing you to take those steps earlier on in your career.

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