A Fastrack student is hoping autism will be celebrated in education rather than being seen as a problem. 

Moira Riley © Edge Hill University

Liverpool mum of three Moira Riley has graduated from Edge Hill University with a BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies and says her degree has made her more determined to fight for equality and inclusion for autistic children within education. 

Moira, who has a 13-year-old son with autism, said: “I’m interested in young people and educational inclusion including social and community inclusion for autistic children.  

“My son has autism and this is something I’ve always seen as a positive and something to be celebrated. 

“But through looking at autism critically, I was surprised to how medically based existing research and theory was.  

“Within education, autism is seen as a deficit that often leads to exclusion. But I believe a lot of problems and inequalities stem from misunderstanding, so I’m hoping to continue my studies with a Critical Autism Masters at Edge Hill to challenge this negativity.” 

Moira, 39, who used to work as a teaching assistant, wanted to come back to education after not excelling at school when she was younger. 

After completing the Fastrack course she was able to get a place on her degree and even found herself studying alongside her daughter who is in the first year of her Nursing degree at Edge Hill. 

She said: “The Fastrack course was intense but prepared me well for the degree. Being a mature student it was all a bit daunting but my tutors were really supportive. 

“During lockdown I worked as a carer in a supportive living setting and considered pausing my studies, but I’m so glad I made the decision to carry on.”  

Professor Tom Cockburn, Head of Social Sciences at Edge Hill, said: “Moira is an excellent example of someone who has taken the chance to return to study after raising a family. 

“She’s always worked at least part-time to look after her family and was debating whether to  pause her studies at one point but made the decision to continue and look at the result. With planning and determination it’s amazing what people can achieve.” 

Fastrack gives you the skills and confidence to study for a degree at Edge Hill, find out more about the seven-week programme on the website. If you would like to know more about social sciences courses, visit the webiste