Finanical help aids Conisbrough mum’s dream

Amy Tillotson with daughter Drew, seven, and 10-month-old son Chase
Amy Tillotson with daughter Drew, seven, and 10-month-old son Chase

A CHANGE in government funding has led to the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for a mum-of-two to get a degree.

Amy Tillotson always wanted to progress her career with a psychology degree, however with two young children and a mortgage to pay, the hard-working mum could not afford to give up work.

The 30-year-old had previously taken on a university course but felt it was not right for her and began working at Rowena Academy in Conisbrough where she works as a parent support adviser offering help to parents, children and carers to tackle learning barriers.

She said: “When I was doing my A-Levels, I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I still didn’t when I got my results. I’d always been interested in psychology so I just went into clearing and got on a psychology and sociology course at Manchester University. I guess I was swept along a bit.

“I’d thought uni would be right for me but it wasn’t. I wasn’t in the right mind-set at all.”

Amy, of Conisbrough, started working in her support adviser role seven years ago and discovered the job had re-triggered her desire to get back into psychology. She registered with a learning provider called RDI which offered distance learning and flexible study around her work and home commitments.

She said: “The job gave me first-hand, practical experience of what psychology could achieve and that really made me keen to re-visit study. I registered with RDI about two years ago to find out more and found a course I really wanted to do. It was perfect and was flexible enough to fit around my work and home-life. The problem was – despite it being so much more affordable than going back to uni, I still couldn’t afford it.”

With the disappointment of unaffordable course fees, Amy was on the verge of having to make a tough decision - until this year when the government changed the rules so that distance learners were entitled to the same financial support as campus-based students.

Amy, who has a 10-month-old son called Chase and seven-year-old daughter Drew, wasted no time in applying and began her Applied Psychology BSc degree with RDI this autumn.

She said: “I’d just returned work after having my son Chase, when I got an email from RDI telling me that from September, I was entitled to the same financial support as campus based students. I could finally afford to do my degree. I applied immediately.”

She added: “There was only so far I could go in my career without a degree so this is really opening up possibilities for me. After this degree, I hope to do more study and perhaps specialise in educational psychology. There is so much I can look forward to now that I’ve been able to overcome what was a massive financial hurdle.”