With just less than one month to go until VQ Day 2013 I found myself thinking about vocational qualifications. People often ask me about my experience of doing a VQ and why I opted to go down this route rather than a more traditional path - so it seemed like an apt topic for my first blog post!
When I left school at 16 I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and opted for staying on at school. After a year of doing my AS levels I soon realised this wasn't the route for me as I wasn't enjoying it and my grades were falling below what I wanted from myself and what other people expected of me. I soon decided to make a change and began a BTEC National Diploma in IT at Huntingdonshire Regional College and to this day I am so glad I made that decision. Taking a vocational qualification gave me the grounds to get involved and study a subject that I was not only comfortable with and good at, but that I enjoyed too! But, more importantly, it has opened up new opportunities to study. Previously, I hadn't realised that there were so many paths to success.
I'm not saying doing a VQ is easy, because it definitely isn't: it is hard work but it becomes work you enjoy if you are on the right course for you. With help and support from all the tutors at college it can be an experience that shapes the person you are and supports you for later on in life.
What's more, whilst at college my tutors nominated me for East of England's Vocational Learner of the year award (part of the annual VQ Day celebrations, which champion technical and practical education) and I won! I was thrilled when my tutor told me that I had been nominated as it meant that all the hard work had paid off, and that my tutors recognised the effort that I'd put in. I never dreamed I would win but since doing so it has made me even more determined to carve out a successful career.
Vocational qualifications are so versatile and you can take them anywhere you want; into the work place, onto an apprenticeship, or, like me, to university. After not doing well at sixth form I pushed myself to achieve as much as I possibly could and because of that I went to college, took my VQ, and I am now in my final year at the University of Northampton studying for a BA in Primary Education (QTS). As long as you have the enthusiasm and energy to get there, I truly believe that a VQ can take you anywhere. They open doors and give you the experience you need to take you to the next chapter in your life. It certainly worked for me and I'm now well on my way to becoming a qualified primary school teacher. I definitely wouldn't be doing that now if I hadn't completed my vocational qualification. So what are you waiting for? If VQ sounds like it's for you, take that next step, and find your perfect vocational qualification!