Posted Thursday 29 July 2021
When Max Baker was completing his A-levels he had no intention of going to university. Fast forward one year and he is at Kingston University where he has found his passion for working with children and is able to pursue his dream of playing American football – all thanks to Clearing.
Upon receiving his A-level results, the then-19-year-old from Ashtead in Surrey, decided to put forward a last-minute application to Kingston University and go through the Clearing process. After an unsuccessful application for primary teaching, he was contacted by Yvalia Febrer, course leader of the Working with Children and Young People: Social Pedagogy programme and immediately enrolled.
Since then, as well as finding his feet academically, Max joined the Kingston University American football team, one of more than 50 sports clubs and societies on offer through the Union of Kingston Students. He is flourishing in the team and was recently recognised as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the UK by Europe's Elite.
Playing American football has also given him a strong sense of brotherhood over the last year. "I made friends with the entire team very quickly and built strong in-person connections during an uncertain time. It has been one of my highlights of my university experience so far," he added.
Max said his course at Kingston has helped cement his passion for working with young children. "My mum is a nursery manager and I live with three younger siblings who are all of primary education age. I enjoy looking after children and I knew this was something I wanted to pursue", he explained. "I was initially hoping to study primary education, but Yvalia reassured me that this course would allow me to go into this by doing a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) afterwards. I am so grateful to have found something that I'm passionate about and I wouldn't be in this position if it was not for Yvalia's help and encouragement," he added.
Alongside the course, Max is working part time in a nursery looking after a child with undiagnosed additional needs, which has helped him decide the career path he would like to follow. "When I joined the nursery in December, I was able to put many elements of the course into practice and it's made me realise that in the future I'd like to work with children of primary education age who have additional needs. It feels like this is my calling and the course and nursery experience combined has helped me see this," he explained.
Having sailed through the first year, which has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Max said one of the things he has enjoyed the most about the course is meeting a variety of people. "Students on the course are all different ages and from different backgrounds. Many have already started their careers working with children and young people, and I have already learnt so much from listening to their real-life experiences," he added.
The course is a mixture of traditional teaching and practical experience. Max will be taking part in a placement at a primary school in the upcoming academic year and is excited to put his knowledge and enthusiasm for working with children into practice. "What I like most about working with children is how I can help shape their lives before they grow up. I work best when I know I'm making a positive impact and I am looking forward to gaining this valuable experience," he said.
Course leader Yvalia Febrer has been impressed with Max's positive attitude. "Max has already shown he is really dedicated to the course and is clearly passionate about working with children. Despite the challenges of this year and being the only male student in his cohort, he was quick to make friends on the course and was not afraid to get stuck into the full University experience," she said.
Upon graduating from the course, students also receive the qualified title of Social Pedagogy Practitioner, which is endorsed by the Social Pedagogy Professional Association and recognised as a job title by several companies in the sector.
Max suggests anyone thinking of applying through Clearing should remain optimistic despite setbacks they may face. "It is important to go into the process with an open mind. It will all work out in the end and like me, it may even lead you down the path of finding out what you really want to do," he said.