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Degree course in self-esteem

Ask Pauline Runcie, co-ordinator and assessor for Aberdeen College placements, about her professional development and she radiates enthusiasm and energy. "I can't tell you how much it has boosted my self-confidence. Ten years ago, working as a nursery nurse, I felt undervalued and saw no future career opportunities. Now, my life has developed in a direction I could never have imagined."

Pauline's personal epiphany came two-and-a-half years ago when she enquired about courses at Northern College. A chat with course director Bill Thomson, inspired her to take the plunge and sign up for the college's newly-launched BA in early childhood studies. She explains: "At that time, I was working in an early intervention project, so my interest had extended into community work and lifelong learning. As a project worker I was allowed to shed my nursery nurse label to a certain extent, but I was still on the same rate of low pay and it was clear my valuable role, supporting parentscarers in encouraging their child's education, wasn't really receiving recognition.

"It was a major step for me to start the BA course, as initially, I didn't have much confidence in being abe to handle the written work. However, Bill was very motivational and I began to surprise myself with what I could do. From then on, my confidence increased. I never looked back."

She then got a job at Aberdeen College, where she is responsible for co-ordinating and assessing social and health care students on work placement. She has also been part-time lecturing - a role which she would not have considered possible a few years ago.

"At first, I thought the career move would be detrimental to my studies, because I was so far away from directly observing children, but in fact, it has been extremely beneficial. Through this experience I have acquired a social care perspective to add to my theoretical learning and previous practical experiences. This gives me a healthy understanding of what the course has been about."

But she adds: "I am proud of my nursery nurse roots, but I'd never contemplate going back. There is still a stigma attached."

Further information on the BA in Early Childhood Studies courses provided by Northern College and the University of Strathclyde, is available from their websites: www.norcol.ac.uk and www.strath.ac.uk

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