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Meet the team – Katie Manning, Sector Lead, Early Years

At Woodspeen Training, we know the importance of having a deep understanding of the sectors we operate in, which is why we recruit people who have lived experience. Our sector lead for Early Years, Katie Manning, started her career at 16 as a level 2 early years apprentice. 

She told us her story, the path she chose, and why she’s now working for Woodspeen Training. 


“During school I was not particularly ‘academic’ and really struggled with the classroom environment. When my peers were signing up to full time college, I knew this route would not be for me. During school I completed a work experience placement within a nursery setting and really enjoyed it, and felt I had a natural ability to engage with children and young people. I left school at 16, not really knowing what I wanted to do, but decided to start with something I knew I enjoyed, which was working with children.

I went to college and enrolled onto a level 2 early years qualification via an apprenticeship and found my own placement at a setting close to me. I completed my course while working for them.  

During my apprenticeship, I realised that college wasn’t the right learning environment for me due to the classroom-based learning. So when I was looking for my level 3 qualification, I actively looked for a training provider rather than a college. I also found a new nursery setting to broaden my expertise. I gained so many skills and it was interesting to see the difference in how the apprenticeship was run at the college in comparison to a training provider. The training provider was so much more practical, and I found it really suited my way of learning.

I completed both my apprenticeships quickly and worked my way through the nursery, from nursery practitioner to room leader, to deputy manager. I was a young deputy manager, at 19 which brings its own challenges, rewards, and experiences.

At 21 I decided I needed a change. As a young person who experienced some challenges, I always felt myself gravitating towards others that needed support, and had a natural ability to build rapport with young people who faced challenges too. I then went on to work with young people in various workplaces. I supported young people with various complex needs in settings including in the community, support centres, family centres (young mothers), and the Residential childcare route. It was amazing, I loved the challenge but also being able to impact young lives, to support them to learn, grow, develop, and help them to remove barriers they are facing in their lives to achieve greater things.

I wanted to continue to a higher-level learning but at the time, was not aware of the apprenticeship route to enable me to do that. I undertook a foundation degree in Working with Young People – Community Pathway, then continued to complete a BA in Social Care – Children and Families Pathway. 

I then moved to work for an organisation through the council which was a young people’s service. It worked to remove barriers to accessing learning or getting into work. I worked with young people daily to remove the barriers that were holding them back to getting into work such as, housing, drug and alcohol misuse, benefits, young parents, and mental health. It was amazing to work with them over a period of months to see that progression with the correct support in place, to then be able to link them to appropriate job, learning, or apprenticeship opportunities once they had worked to overcome those barriers.

I then moved to work for training providers such as Woodspeen Training to continue to support young people and adults access learning through apprenticeships. During my time working for training providers, I have continued to complete apprenticeships and courses such as Teaching and Learning Level 3, Information, Advice and Guidance Level 4, and Management Level 4. 

I realise now after experiencing different ways of learning, that I really learnt a lot through apprenticeships/courses studying whilst ‘on-the-job’, being able to confidently apply the knowledge, skills, and behaviours in the workplace.

My role at Woodspeen Training brings me into contact with both learners and employers and I love being able to show how an apprenticeship can be the beginning of a sustainable career and a future that is limitless.”

Read about the Early Years courses available from Woodspeen Training and contact Katie to talk about how an apprentice could impact your business. 

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