As our recently launched Young Learner’s Service is proving popular, we thought we’d tell you a bit about a day in the life of Sarah Barrett, who is our student services coordinator specialising in this area.
Sarah already had a background in teaching before coming to NEC. She spent a year as a teaching assistant at a secondary school, where she mostly helped out with Art and English, before receiving teacher training in Design and Technology from Homerton College. She then taught in a secondary school for a while, but realised that the aspect of teaching which she found most compelling was being able to support students. She wanted to find a place where she could specialise in this calling, and found it with NEC.
Sarah joined NEC’s student services team in January of this year. She is part of a team who each have their own areas of focus (hers are GCSEs, IGCSEs, A levels and the new Young Learner’s Service). Her typical day sees her deal with anything from making exam entries to contacting tutors, and everything in between. She thinks of her role as one of guidance and support, helping students to manage their learning in order to succeed. She loves what she does and finds it extremely rewarding.
The recent exam results days this summer were as exciting as they always are for everyone at NEC, but particularly for Sarah as the student services coordinator for GCSEs, IGCSEs and A levels. She says that while the atmosphere tends to be full of eager anticipation, she can often feel a bit nervous as well.
‘As a student supporter, you really get to know your students,’ she explains. ‘Over the course of their studies you watch them put in a lot of hard work. It’s only natural to hope they get the grades they deserve, and to want them to succeed. You’ve gone through that journey alongside them. So on results day you feel nervous with them… but excited with them at the same time.’
She adds, ‘It’s always great when we see our students rewarded for their efforts. But we also want to be there for those who might not have done as well as they’d hoped, to try and continue to help them.’ Sarah – and NEC – encourages students to get in touch if they are disappointed with their results and want to know what their next steps might be. Results day may have come and gone, but NEC will continue to support its learners.
Another part of Sarah’s day can sometimes be the exams that NEC hosts at its offices in Cambridge, such as language oral exams. ‘Setting everything up and making sure it works on the day is quite enjoyable, and I love the chance it gives us to meet our students in person!’
Sarah’s newest specialisation is the Young Learner’s Service, which was launched a few months ago. It aims to provide additional support to students, but equally importantly it enables parents to get involved with their child’s learning. Something Sarah learned while studying for her degree, and later while teaching, is how valuable the support and involvement from family or friends can be.
‘It can really help motivate a learner to succeed, and I found it crucial in helping me to stay positive. Think of it as a triangle drawn between the learner, tutor, and family member. That’s the relationship.’
‘You must also have a good tutor in that relationship. NEC hand-picks tutors who will go the extra mile for their students, like everyone else at NEC. We all want our learners to succeed, and that’s why we’ve developed the Young Learner’s Service.’