Joanne Carlsen © Edge Hill University

Joanne Carlsen, 52, had always worked in early years, with her career spanning a special baby care unit, children’s centres, being a nanny and a senior nursery leader. 

But as funding cuts started to change early years provision, Joanne made the decision to leap into study to further her career and prove you’re never too old to get a First. 

Joanne, from Garstang, said: “I’ve never considered myself a high achiever. I’ve always been very practical from an early age rather than academic. 

“That’s why I choose to work in early years as it’s so hands on and I love it. I’ve been lucky to have worked in a broad range of settings and emerging provisions such as forest schools. 

“It was whilst completing my Level 3 Forest School Leader qualification that my interest in studying was sparked, as I realised that I did have the ability to learn and do well.” 

She added: “When there were changes being made to early years provision I started to consider my future.  

“My two children are grown up now and having looked into student finance I realised that if I wanted to study for a degree I could do.” 

And study she did, earning a First-Class Honours degree in BSc Child Health and Wellbeing. 

Joanne, said: “Having worked my entire career in early years I’d just done things as I was taught. I never really understood why we did things that way. 

“The degree was fantastic because it helped me understand why and how things are done and the theory behind it.  

“It’s definitely helped me see the bigger picture, not just in relation to early years but also on a broader level of how children’s mental health and wellbeing continues throughout education.” 

Joanne is now looking for a new role and is interested in specialising in mental health within education. 

She added: “ I was worried I wasn’t academic and wouldn’t fit into university life. But my work experience helped me and filled me with reassurance once I started the course. 

“Edge Hill has allowed me to reflect on everything I’ve achieved so far and what I might be able to achieve in the future. 

“I’ve been on a very personal journey and I’m a lot more confident about my skills and abilities and what I might be capable of in the next stage of my life.” 

Edge Hill University runs a number of courses in education and child health and wellbeing. Visit the website www.edgehill.ac.uk/education for more information on all the education courses available at Edge Hill.