Kids, CAVA and the Coronavirus | Guest Blog ~ Sam

Across the Brooks and Kirk website, there are hundreds of blogs. But only a handful of them are from the perspective of our wonderful learners. So today’s blog is actually a guest blog from past learner Sam. Sam recently completed her CAVA course at the same time as having a baby, juggling childcare responsibilities, a job, and a masters degree to complete. Oh, and that was all during the lockdowns in the pandemic. How amazing is that?! Anyway, it’s over to you Sam…

Kids, CAVA, and the Coronavirus

“I often say that I ended up in Early Years by accident, but that, on reflection, it was where I was always meant to be. I initially trained as a secondary school teacher and planned to teach religious studies but had my head turned by a day in the nursery class while on a primary school placement and, after qualifying, I took a job in a private day nursery.

Why assessing?

Early Years is wildly different to secondary school teaching. The skills are much more subtle but require equal commitment and professionalism to develop well. After broadening my experience with different age ranges in the nursery and taking on leadership roles I was awarded Early Years Professional Status in 2013. Following this I managed a setting, nannied for several families and worked as an EYFS teaching assistant in a state-maintained primary school. The thread running throughout my career was a love of teaching, training, and developing others; I’ve worked with numerous apprentices throughout the years and loved seeing their progress and encouraging them along the way. This, combined with a desire to raise standards in the sector, led me to consider training and assessing.

Why Brooks and Kirk?

After researching different options for training as an assessor I chose to train with Brooks and Kirk because they offered everything I needed; the ability to work from home, access to learners, quality online teaching materials and a self-paced curriculum.

Having access to learners was particularly important to me as this was something that I didn’t have in my regular employment. Whilst I was a little nervous to assess outside of my main sector, Brooks and Kirk made the process really simple and I found that it was something I had a natural aptitude for and what’s more, I really enjoyed it.

What were the challenges?

My experience wasn’t without challenges; I started my qualification in September 2020, whilst on maternity leave with my 3rd baby. My children were 6, 5 and 2 months old when I decided to take on the CAVA award, alongside working from home as a freelance writer and consultant and a Masters degree; perhaps I was a little ambitious but when I decide to do something, I do it!

The January lockdown and home-schooling delayed but did not stop my progress, I initially chose Brooks and Kirk due to their flexibility but this really came into its own during the pandemic! I completed my qualification just before my baby turned one.

How was the experience?

Studying with Brooks and Kirk was a really straight-forward process as everything was explained logically and expectations were very clear. Being able to work at my own pace using asynchronous web-based learning meant that I have been able to complete my qualification without the need to arrange or pay for childcare. Practically this has meant working later at night when the children have gone to bed, or sometimes listening to training videos whilst breastfeeding the baby! But this flexibility has been invaluable and allowed me to do something that would otherwise have been impossible.

I’m really proud that I have been able to do something to further my career alongside my responsibilities as a mum. I hope that in years to come my children will see this as an example that there’s always the possibility of doing something new if you’re willing to work at it. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend studying with Brooks and Kirk to other mums; where there’s a will there’s a way!

Due to Covid-19 all of my assessment has been online, on the phone or via zoom but this has actually worked really well both in terms of logistics and in terms of assessing; it was really easy to see exactly what a learner was doing when they could simply share their screen!

What’s next?

For my next steps, I’m planning to finish up my Masters degree this winter and pass a driving test (because apparently I can’t just do one thing at a time!) before deciding on what to do next. Whatever I do, though, the experience of studying with Brooks and Kirk and the knowledge and skills I have developed throughout my CAVA course will stand me in good stead; being able to give good feedback, assess someone against a specific set of criteria and record information clearly and accurately are important skills across the Early Years sector whether you’re training, assessing, managing or on the floor (literally!) as a practitioner.”


If Sam’s story has inspired to you start your journey to become an Assessor, give our office a call on 01205 805 155 or send us an email to