UWTSD Early Years graduates return to University to inspire current students


Last week, students and alumni from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Early Years courses gathered in Carmarthen for the annual ‘Opening Doors’ employability event.

Myfyrwyr a chyn-fyfyrwyr Blynyddoedd Cynnar / Early Years students and graduates

Current students were given the opportunity to listen to graduates talk about their own career paths and to hear about how they’re applying what they learnt during their time at UWTSD in a variety of fields.

The aim was to show students the different career pathways available to them after graduating.  Speakers included graduates who’ve gone on to become teachers; social workers; healthcare professionals as well as those who’ve ventured into the business world and opened their own nurseries.

“The event was a great success and it was wonderful to be able to welcome back graduates to come and talk to our current students,” says Alison Rees-Edwards, an Early Years lecturer at UWTSD and the organiser of the event.

“The Early Years programmes – delivered at the University’s Carmarthen and Swansea campuses – explore the links between theory and practice and have a strong emphasis on children’s well-being and development; young children’s rights; the importance of listening and respecting children’s ideas and decisions, and the right for young children to have access to play.

“One of the main questions we get asked – either by prospective students, their parents and even current students is which career this degree can lead them to – so rather than hearing from us in a presentation we decided to expand our annual employability event and invite graduates who’ve gone on to follow different pathways – be it education, health, social work and invite current students to hear from them directly.

“We have graduates who started off as Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) who chose to follow the flexible learning route and having graduating with us, have gone on to do the PGCE before becoming successful primary school teachers.  

“The degree itself opens many, many doors and sometimes, there’s a misconception that you can only follow the education route but we had graduates take part who’ve gone on to be leaders in Early Years settings; some managers of day nurseries and managers who’ve gone on to work for organisation such as Care Inspectorate Wales.  We also have a mother and daughter who’ve been successful in opening their own day nursery on their farm – all showing the exciting opportunities available to graduates from our Early Years courses.

“UWTSD offers two Early Years pathways – the traditional three year degree programme and a full-time degree in evenings for those who work in the Early Years sector but for various reasons decide not to give up work which means that they’re working full-time, studying full-time with some raising a family but event such as this just shows how this can work and how successful our graduates can be.”

The alumni who came to speak to the students were all graduates of either the traditional three-year degree scheme or the flexible two-year degree programmes.

Two of those graduates who took part were Jess Carsley and Natasha Jones.

Natasha Jones & Jess Carsley

Natasha Jones & Jess Carsley

Jess graduated from the BA Early Years degree programme in 2017 is currently studying for a degree in Children’s nursing.   She says the experience of studying the Early Years course in Carmarthen gave her the confidence and knowledge to specialise as a children’s nurse.

“I absolutely loved it!  I didn’t think I would but I did,” says Jess referring to her three years at UWTSD.  “I made some amazing friends, I learnt a lot about childhood studies, different theories and how to put them into practice.  I didn’t really know what I wanted … so I took a year out and looked back at what I studied and then decided to go and do my children’s nursing degree.

“The degree that I did in Carmarthen helped me put things you wouldn’t normally put into practice - into practice - with the children’s development.  While as I was in Carmarthen I was working in the NHS in the community with older people and I enjoyed that but I also enjoyed the child aspect of it - so I put it together and went out to do my child nursing rather than the adult nursing so I could use what I’d already done and put that into a different degree.  They were the best three years that I’ve ever experienced.”

Natasha Jones graduated with a BA degree in Early Years in 2018 and is currently working with Welsh Early Years specialists, Mudiad Meithrin on their national training scheme, Cam Wrth Gam. 

“I’m a tutor on the Level 2 Child Care and Education scheme and I work with yeas 10 and 11 at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera teaching them how to care from children and the importance of doing so properly,” said Natasha.  “I also work with pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Myrddin and Ysgol y Strade assessing them on their placements.  When I started at UWTSD I wasn't confident at all but I then made friends and made lots of contacts in the world of work too. From here I travelled to Iceland to look after a young child; I also worked at many nurseries and primary schools, and it is all of these experiences that I had whilst on the course that have given me the confidence and the experience to be able to do different things. I had a great time studying here.”

To find out more about the Early Years degree programmes offered at UWTSD, please visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/early-years/

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk