A returning Education student has spoken about how being a single mother was no barrier to her spending a semester in the Netherlands as part of the University’s Erasmus+ programme.
Simmone McLean, whose daughter Hannah is 9 and who lives in Kingsthorpe, is studying for a BA in Childhood and Youth and is currently in her final year.
She recently returned from a 6 month study exchange at HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen, where she gained a deeper understanding of her degree subject by taking HAN’s Creativity & Art at Work minor programme.
Despite initial reservations that being a mother would hinder any travel/study plans, the University of Northampton’s Erasmus team supported her in her academic wishes by working closely with Simmone and with partner staff at HAN to make it a possibility.
This was the first time a University of Northampton student has taken their child on Erasmus+ and indeed it was a first for HAN too!
As Simmone’s studies were supplemented by working alongside social workers and engineers and even co-authoring a book on helping children with mental illness, she was able to secure Hannah a place in a Dutch school, where her daughter developed new skills by meeting children from all over the world and by learning Dutch.
Commenting on the experience, Simmone said: “Being a Mum, I never gave going overseas to study a second thought, it seemed unachievable.
“But thanks to the help of the wonderful Erasmus+ team at the University of Northampton, who were really supportive, I got to take part.
“I cannot recommend this enough for other students and single parents should not be put off. Your growth as a student and as a parent is immense. If you are stuck in a box, get rid of the box and go!”
Ann Pillans, Erasmus & Mobility Officer at the University of Northampton, said: “Simmone embodies the whole ethos of Erasmus+ and has been a wonderful ambassador for the University, so much so that UUKi have invited her to be part of their national Widening Participation toolkit, to be launched in Brussels in December 2017 .
“Simmone has illustrated how significant challenges can be overcome in order to benefit from the life-changing experience of studying or working abroad on Erasmus+.
“Her experience shows that being a single parent should not hold you back. We have a number of Erasmus+ mobility options on offer, particularly in Education and Nursing, and students who are interested in participating, whatever their current situation, are welcome to contact me to discuss the options.”
“Academic colleagues in the Faculty of Education & Humanities, led by Dr Kyffin Jones, Senior Lecturer in Education, crucially changed the curriculum by semesterising Year 2 of various Education programmes to create a “mobility window” which enables our students to study abroad and benefit from these amazing opportunities.”
Read here for more about the Erasmus+ programme.
Click here to see where Simmone studied.