Joanne Lowe is the tutor for this learning site, one of two groups who started the Level 3 CACHE Diploma in September 2001. This is a full-time, two-year course, half of which is taught in college, and half of which comprises work placements in nurseries and primary schools. It is an overwhelmingly female course, and only one of the 20 students who originally joined Joanne’s group this year is male. The course is located in the department for health and social care, and recruits mainly school-leavers. Some students originally had higher career aspirations to become professional teachers or nurses, but performed poorly in their school exams, and (like the care girls) have had to lower their ambitions. The large majority of students go on to work in private nurseries. A recent OFSTED inspection rated teaching on the course as excellent, and it is held in high regard by the CACHE national examination board and by local employers.
Joanne and two of her three colleagues in the CACHE teaching team are former nursery nurses themselves, and they offer valued ‘insider’ expertise. Joanne herself dedicates a great deal of time to intensive academic support for individual students, some of whom entered this advanced level course with only two GCSE passes, and most of whom struggle with the written work required. She also helps organise a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, and provides a great deal of pastoral support for students and their parents. She is perceived as a very caring tutor, in whom students can confide. The promotion of equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice is central to her teaching role and to the team’s ethos.