Success Stories: How a CACHE course changed my life

“I’m doing a job I love, with the family flexibility I want.” - Natalie Hancock

No takeover here

When the company where Natalie worked as an office manager went through a takeover, things changed.  As a mum with a young family it meant that the previous job flexibility no longer existed and her role changed to include travel more often than she wanted.  Things had to change, as Natalie told us:

“My role first and foremost is to be a mum and my children will always be the top priority.  My previous role allowed me to be in the office just for the core office hours.  This allowed me to be there for school drop off and pick up, but with the takeover that changed.  The demands on my time at work were increasing and I didn’t want to compromise the care of my children for the sake of work.  I had to look at other options.”

Reviewing the situation

Natalie spoke with her husband and they came to the decision that she should look at other careers which provided the flexibility their family needed. Thinking about what she enjoyed doing, Natalie had always helped at the primary school her children attended with reading and other activities.  Natalie found that extremely rewarding and decided that working in a school as a teaching assistant could be a job that would meet her and the families’ needs.

“I spoke to the headmaster at the school my children attended and asked whether they would support.  I needed to work in the school to get the practical experience to complete a CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools – QCF and they agreed."

Navigating the course

“I looked at local colleges, online learning and at all the options available.  Open Study College was the best route for me as it meant I could complete the course at my own pace and still be there to collect my children after school.  It also meant I could continue to work whilst I studied which kept the money coming in.”

“This way of learning is absolutely perfect for anyone who needs an income whilst studying towards a new career."


Starting her course in May 2015, Natalie enjoyed the flexibility that studying with Open Study College delivered.

“I worked at my own pace and managed to complete some of the course before I started my official placement in September 2015. What was really interesting was the level of work I completed and the tutor support I received through Open Study was far superior to some of the more traditional routes offered.  I delivered 360 observations, essays, feedback and evidence which were very in depth. Yet, I had the beauty of working and studying around my children rather than 9-4 in a lecture room.”

Natalie worked through the course quickly and took just six months to complete the level 3.  In less than one year after leaving her job, Natalie qualified as a teaching assistant and started working in a school.

“I was delighted when I qualified in March 2016 and after a few months working in my children’s school, to build up my confidence; I signed up with a Teaching agency.  This would broaden my knowledge and experience.  I started a supply contract in the September and I worked at a variety of schools from rural to a tougher inner city school before settling in a permanent, full time position.”

Rewards all round

As if the rewards from gaining a new qualification and career aren’t enough, Natalie says that the most rewarding is the lightbulb moments.

“I love working with the children. It’s the most rewarding when you explain something and when they grasp the concept, when the lights turn on, that’s the moment which makes it all worthwhile.  It’s empowering the children with self-belief, unlocking their potential and showing them how to make the best of themselves.   It’s really rewarding for me and for my own children it means I’m the best mum I can be.  No more juggling.”

Change is a wonderful thing

“It’s been life changing for me.  Not many people can say they love their job.  A year ago I couldn’t, now I can. It’s a career I love giving me the family flexibility I want. ”

If like Natalie you’d like to enrol in the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning, take a look at the course information here.

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Sharnie Carter

Success Stories: How a CACHE course changed my life