Zoe Eldridge, 20, is an inspiration, progressing from a carpentry student to a Learning Support Worker at Carshalton College helping current learners.

Zoe enrolled when she was 18 years old on the C-Skills Level 1 Carpentry Diploma, feeling nervous being the only female in the class and at the prospect of starting a new vocation, she has become an incredible asset in the College working with students and helping their progression and day to day learning.

Zoe was a student at Carshalton Girls High School and did the first year of her A Levels before realising the courses were not right for her. At school she really liked design and technology and always got on well with her teacher, Barbara Pearce, who encouraged her to look further into this area. Zoe completed a 2 week work experience at a furniture restoration company in Kent during her time at school.

5351878_origOn the last day of enrolment, Zoe joined the Level 1 Carpentry diploma at Carshalton College. On the first day of the course, the rest of the class thought Zoe was not enrolled as a student but just observing as she was the only female but her nerves were soon settled with the help of her tutor and everyone being friendly.

During her time in class, her carpentry tutor Daren Hull, would ask Zoe to explain tasks to other students as he recognised her natural ability to engage with her class mates and teach them how to complete an activity with her knowledge and grasp of the practical carpentry coursework. Zoe completed the C-Skills Level 1 and Level 2 Diplomas in Carpentry.

Recognising her support skills and knowledge of the construction subjects, Daren and Support Workers encouraged her to join the College and in September 2016, Zoe became a Learning Support Worker with the Construction Team.

Learner Support workers support students and help teachers with students’ educational and social development, both in and out of the classroom. Zoe’s job can include helping students who need extra support to complete tasks, helping plan learning activities and complete records, supporting teachers in managing class behaviour, supervising group activities and carrying out administrative tasks.

“It became evident some three years ago during my interview with Zoe that here was a young lady who knew what she wanted to achieve. Having carried out work experience repairing furniture Zoe had discovered her passion for woodwork. I was aware that Zoe was nervous at being the only female within the group but this soon changed to becoming proud of what she was achieving. Her natural ability and attention to detail was evident within her immaculate portfolio and accurate practical task completion. Zoe was in the top three of the group completing her level 1 Diploma ahead of many of her male peers. I also became aware of Zoe`s caring nature and recognised that in fact Zoe had become a role model for others within the group. As I am a firm believer in peer learning as a teaching tool , Zoe was a perfect candidate to introduce this. The rest is history as they say.

Zoe went on to achieve both level 1 and level 2 Diplomas in Carpentry passing all the exams with high grades in both years without any retakes. Zoe wanted to complete her level 3 Carpentry but we at Carshalton were not running the course so Zoe decided to carry on working part time until we were running the course here at Carshalton. So when the position arose for LSW within Carpentry and Construction I had no hesitation in suggesting Zoe apply.

Since being appointed Zoe has been an asset to our department and assists many learners as an LSW as she did all those years ago as a learner. At times it is strange to see Zoe within the classroom as a work college and not a student. She always explains to learners the importance of achieving and setting goals and to make the most of their time at college. When Zoe assists with written and practical input I will often hear learners say “What you have done this!” they sound so surprised until I explain that some of the example board work in the workshop is in fact Zoe`s and I feel so proud for her.”

Zoe splits working with Carpentry students Monday to Wednesday, helping Bricklaying students with English and Maths on Thursday and Multi Skills students on Fridays. In this role, Zoe assists teachers with lessons and supports the students by copying notes, giving reminders and providing extra assistance. Zoe works with students who have a variety of different needs from learners on the autistic spectrum and learners who have behavioural disorders such as ADHD.

Zoe appreciates Daren’s help and support during her time as a student and being encouraged to follow a path in support work

“Daren has always been so supportive since I joined the Level 1 Carpentry course. He is a fantastic tutor, so knowledgeable and takes the time to find out as an individual how you learn best. The students I support begin lessons sometimes feeling disengaged but Daren always makes them feel chuffed by the end of the lesson that they have learnt something.’”

“I feel being close to the learners in age, having the experience of completing a construction course and being a student here, I can relate to the learners and help them with lots of aspects of their learning journey. I really enjoy working at the College and don’t want to leave. I have applied for the job as a Carpentry tutor and am also looking to complete my Level 3 qualification in Carpentry.”