Sue Duchesne

Sue Duchesne, a trained nursery nurse and qualified NVQ assessor, has successfully carried on learning, building her qualifications and taken control of her career journey.

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My name is Sue Duchesne, and I’m the NVQ Assessment Centre Manager at Kensington and Chelsea College. I manage a team of Assessors, about 20 Assessors, across the Health, Social Care, Child Care and Play Work team. So I make sure that they’re going out visiting students, they’re assessing them, that the process they do meets the national standards for NVQs.

The one thing I enjoy most about my job is the way that I can be with, and make some impact on, national education. The quality of it. It’s the actual sort of interaction, I suppose, with people that are actually working in the LEA Sector, that I enjoy the most.

I worked in child care, trained as a nursery nurse at college, and then worked in a nursery. And slowly sort of changed different jobs in the child care sector, so I got a quite a wealth of experience within child care itself. And then I had my own children, and needed something that was a bit more flexible than working actually in child care itself. And saw an advertisement for an NVQ Assessor. And one of the things that attracted me was it said flexible hours. And then moved on to being a Manager of a company, and then actually I was involved in a management buyout of that training provider, so I actually ran the company with two colleagues.

It’s quite stressful owning your own company. We had sort of 60 staff and about two thousand learners, and we had Government contracts so it was, at that point in my life I was very much very work focused, and wasn’t spending an awful lot of time at home. And so decided like when we sold the company, that I wouldn’t ever put quite that much into work again, I’d have a bit of a – more of a work/life balance.

What was I like at school? I hated school, so it’s very ironic that I’ve ended up in education. On my first day I went to school I was quite happy apparently, I don’t remember this, but my parents tell me. And the next day my Mum got me up and she said Right, time for school. And I said I went there yesterday. And that was my attitude I think till I was 18.

One of the turning points for me was the NVQ Assessor job, because up until that point I qualified many years before as nursery nurse, and I just stayed at that level. But when I went to be an Assessor, although my Early Years experience was obviously vital for the job, I had to train to be an Assessor. And I then moved on to an Internal Verifier qualification. And then really got interested in adult education. So from then on in really, I’ve just sort of done lots of different sorts of courses and qualifications.

The two people that inspired me the most were my grandparents, because they were both born and brought up in the East End of London, very poor, and then after the War my grandfather trained as an engineer, and they set up their own engineering company. And they always sort of aspired to progress and do better and be better than they had been. And when, as I say, you know, later on in my life I became NVQ Assessor, it was my grandmother that said Yeah, you can do this, I was still taking qualifications when I was 50 and, you know, so she was an inspiration to me.

My favourite thing to do outside work. I like going to auctions, antique auctions. And I particularly like to buy old jewellery. Maybe the actual ring has very, you know, worn and – but there’s a nice diamond in there or something. And then I design a new ring. And I’ve got a friend who’s a jeweller, so he makes them.

Don’t think I have one dream as such. I think my dream is that my life will carry on as it is I think, I’m quite – I’ve got to a point in my career that I really enjoy the job I do, and I think I’ve got a good work/life balance. And yeah, just would like it to carry on as it is. I don’t – I don’t have any aspiration to go to the moon or anything like that.

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