Feeling unfulfilled and frustrated in her IT role with a large retailer, Donna realised helping people overcome their difficulties in learning English was her true calling.

Gaining her PGCE, she joined Northumberland College in 2014 teaching English Functional Skills and GCSE to young people at Ashington Campus.

I have a Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) in Literacy Specialists: Learning and Skills Sector and PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education and Training from Sheffield Hallam University

I also studied BA (Hons) English Language with Medieval Literature at the University of Sheffield, Access to Higher Education: Literature and History at Liverpool College and BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design.

I teach English – both Functional Skills and GCSE – to young people at Northumberland College’s Ashington Campus.

It was never my intention. It never occurred to me to consider an academic route. Like many of our young people, I doubted myself and believed that I couldn’t do it. I believed I wasn’t good enough.

I worked for a large retail group as an IT coach. Whilst it paid the bills, it really wasn’t fulfilling at all. I shared my colleagues’ frustrations with English and this led to an epiphany: I could help them by giving them the tools they needed.

I went on maternity leave to have my youngest child in 2004 and was still dithering about applying to university. Several family members gave me a much-needed pep talk, so I applied to Sheffield Hallam University to do a PGCE.

Seeing young people overcome their self-doubt, try new things, be brave and realise that education is neither the enemy, nor a dirty word.

Seeing my daughter graduate from the college with an HND in Art. Also, every moment spent with the amazing colleagues at Northumberland College and watching our students have their own epiphanies.

Creativity, nature and being brave enough to take a leap of faith, whoever you are.

It is not just important, it is essential. Without it, we live in a very small, narrow-focused world. Education opens our hearts and minds.

For some, igniting the spark of curiosity.

As a wardrobe assistant at the New Tyne Theatre and Opera House in 1988. I have seen things I can never unsee.

Being valued and being listened to.

At university, Dr Geoff Lester, Professor John Widdowson and Professor Jane Stevenson. They believed I had potential and should persevere even when I struggled to see the point.

Curious, patient, pragmatic.

Stop listening to the negative voice in your head: you want to do it? Go do it. Stop procrastinating and just do it.

Spending time with my son and daughter, with our dog and cat; crochet – especially teaching others; birdwatching and walking – gets me out into the great outdoors with the dog.

I enjoy History, especially ancient through to medieval and Genealogy which is more like a lifelong obsession. DNA suggests I am 100% from the ancient kingdom of Northumbria, so I am right at home!

My timeline

  • 2014

    Lecturer, Functional Skills and GCSE, Northumberland College.

    English and Employability teacher, Trinity College

  • 2013

    Lecturer in Essential Skills, East Durham College

  • 2012

    Instructor in Functional Skills, Northumberland College

  • 2011

    Key Skills and Functional Skills Lecturer, New College Durham

  • 2008

    Lecturer in English and Editor-in-Chief of the prison magazine, HMP Acklington

    Cert HE Literacy Specialists: Learning and Skills Sector.

  • 2007

    Manor Training and Resource Centre (MaTReC) – Maths and English tutor to adults.

  • 2007

    PGCE PCET, Sheffield Hallam University

  • 2006

    Skills for Life Tutor, Northern College

  • 2004

    Birth of my son.

  • 2001

    IT Customer Service Coach, Dixons Retail Group

    Postgraduate research PhD in Dialectology, University of Sheffield (on hold, indefinitely).

  • 1997

    Birth of my daughter.

  • 1995

    Leicestershire County Archive (volunteer).

  • 1996

    BA (Hons) English Language with Medieval Language

  • 1993

    Access to Higher Education, Liverpool College.

  • 1989

    Royal Shakespeare Company at Newcastle Theatre Royal (college work placement)

  • 1988

    Tyne Theatre and Opera House (college work placement)