A father of three from Boston set off on the road to postgraduate study by enrolling on a Bishop Grosseteste University foundation degree course at Boston College.
This week Dave Callow (37) will graduate with an honours degree from BGU at Lincoln Cathedral – and he is now set to embark on a master's course at the University of Lincoln.
Dave left school at 16 with a good set of GCSEs, and after studying Art and Design at Boston College he tried factory work, landscape gardening and office roles, but he didn’t settle into a permanent career.
After becoming a full-time dad he realised he needed a rewarding occupation. “I wanted to be an example to my kids,” he said. “I didn’t want to be coming home to them feeling miserable from a job that left me unfulfilled.”
He approached Boston College for careers advice, began volunteering at his local school and re-took his Maths GCSE. In 2012 he enrolled on the BGU Foundation Degree in Applied Studies (Learning Support) at Boston College and soon found himself being challenged to think about his work in school in fresh and interesting ways.
“It awakened a thirst for knowledge,” said Dave. “I wanted a deeper understanding of social issues and injustices. At my work setting I found I was suddenly more aware of the complexities of children’s lives outside of school.
“The connection between what we were learning in the modules and the day-to-day work was so strong; I felt drawn to working with families and to making a positive contribution to society.”
One of the benefits of BGU’s collaborative partnership with Boston College is the opportunity it offers to people to study locally, said Dave. “At that time, as a full-time Dad in Boston, I just couldn’t have gone anywhere else. It gave me such an important step on the way.”
At the end of his foundation degree in Boston Dave stepped up to the BA (Hons) degree in Applied Studies in Education at BGU in Lincoln.
“I’ve loved the experience of being in a university,” he said. “The BGU campus is lovely, the library is amazing and the tutors are nice and helpful. I like the structure of the progression year - the way the modules had been planned allowed us to become more independent as the year passed.”
As he neared the end of his degree Dave knew he wanted to continue studying, so he spoke to careers staff at BG Futures and undertook an in-depth psychometric test. He applied for the MSc in Social Work at the University of Lincoln and within a few weeks he had been offered a place.
Dave recognises that he has come a long way since he started. “When I think now about the first presentation I had to do on my foundation degree, it was one of the scariest days of my life! But now, at the end of the honours degree, I feel much more confident in my ability, my knowledge and myself. Even though I’ve finished my degree, I’m still reading about the things I’ve studied – it’s definitely unleashed something within me that wants to go on learning.”
BGU’s Foundation Degree in Applied Studies is a work-related programme that enables working practitioners (or experienced volunteers) to study alongside their work and family responsibilities.
Students choose from three pathways: Learning Support, Early Childhood or Children & Youth Work, according to their work role.
The course is validated by the university and delivered at three colleges in Lincolnshire – Boston College, New College Stamford and North Lindsey College in Scunthorpe – as well as at BGU in Lincoln. It usually runs over two years.