My name is Kelly.
I have three daughters under six and am ‘going back to university’ to do my PGCE in Primary teaching! Absolutely everyone says I’m either ‘mad’, or ‘crazy’ or ‘irresponsible’, ‘it’s so much work’, ‘it’s such a full on year’, ‘how will you manage with three small children?!’, yet ultra sensible, have-never-failed-at-a-thing me, thinks its the best idea ever. It is both, the most selfish thing I have ever done, and the most unselfish at the same time, its for me and for our girls.
…and here is why I’m doing it. I haven’t actually written this down yet so even if this is never published, its very cathartic.
I have what ‘most’ Mums probably want. I take my eldest to and from school each day and spend the rest of the days working from home and taking care of the other two girls. I have a successful digital marketing career and manage the online needs of three companies from the comfort of my lounge, joggers and messy bun, whilst the girls play and fight and fight, occasionally cuddling my leg. But I’m 29, (and like a scene from the itchy footed/finned Little Mermaid), I want more!
So, my five year old told her teacher that I play on my computer for my work, then I went into her class to ‘make a fruit salad morning – parent and child and BOOM, like that, the spark, the teaching dream that I had repressed the day I fell pregnant with her was re-ignited. Who knew that squishing bits of sloppy banana onto blunt kebab skewers could be so life changing. But those kids’ faces, so engaged, so proud, so eager to write about (and eat!) what they had achieved with their parents at their sides.
Rewind six years, aged twenty three, I had just graduated with a 1:1 Honours Degree in English Studies and Marketing Management, we had just bought our first little flat and I had an interview with the University of Suffolk for my PGCE. Then that blue line appeared; I had a little baby on the way, albeit the size of a lentil. We all know when pregnant with the first, your sacrifices go further than giving up the booze, and so without hesitation cancelled my teacher training interview and was onto the next chapter of my life.
Over the next few years, despite having another, and then another little girl, I set up my marketing business, leading a double life of library sing and rhyme, tumble tots and Les Petites Zouszous’; with webinars, websites, email campaigns and instagram. Even though I had children, I could still have a clean house, food in the fridge, friends over and juggle work. Work for me was money and flexible hours, and for the girls it has meant all those little extras that I know they were lucky to have.
With ferocious ambition, since January this year, I have had another (pretty much full time job), of university applications, voluntary teaching days, professional skills test revision, loan applications, reading lists… and in terms of getting the girls an action plan for September, there’s been tens of nursery visits and childminder chats.
You get the picture, I want this. With every tuff spot I google, every Julia Donaldson and David Walliams character I read in a different creative funny voice, I want my Qualified Teacher Status more and more.
Here is the blow… key change…
On stepping into the house after our newly budget (and frankly amazing!) family caravan holiday, a letter from the student loan company informs me that I will not be entitled to any childcare help, any adult learning allowances, or maintenance grants, because of my husband’s earnings. Apparently (a figure a bit less than £35K) is too much to qualify for additional help and here with lies my frustration. I am giving up my job, our lifestyle, giving up being THAT mum who works from home and gets leg cuddles all day, have a FIRST class degree, they are crying out for teachers, I am totally dedicated to my course which requires me to work full time as a teacher for the year for FREE, and yet I will not be getting any financial help with childcare.
As I said, I am not used to failing, yet this blow to my master plan will make my PGCE impossible. (Note I am paying £9,250 tuition fees for the university teaching too).
What can I do? … totally rhetorical… but how utterly frustrating to be such a driven, qualified applicant, prepared to give up so much, but be jilted at the alter because I can’t afford the childcare and to live at the same time if I was to do the course.
So I’m asking anyone that has an option, has been there, knows someone who has been there to comment and/or get in touch. I’m so not ready to let go of my dream.
A Guest Blog from Kelly Hudson
Kelly is Mum to three little girls and is ready to give her all to a career in teaching. You can follow her on Instagram or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org