Jo Wyard

New Directions Award | Sponsored by Skills and Education Group


New Directions Award

Jo became determined to change her life for her and her four children after becoming a single mother. From leaving school with few qualifications, Jo returned to learning at the age of 41 and has now been in her chosen profession for three years.

 I made the daunting decision to re-enter the education system in 2013 at the age of 41. I was determined not to let my circumstances define me or my children. I wanted to be a mother my children could be proud of, and the only way I knew I could make that happen was if I re-educated myself.

After accepting voluntary redundancy during pregnancy and after I split with my husband, a Family Support Practitioner at my local Children’s Centre empowered me to apply for an Access to HE course at Suffolk New College. I passed with distinction and progressed onto a BA (Hons) Social Work degree at University of Suffolk, achieving a 2:1 despite being diagnosed with dyslexia, and was asked to deliver the Vote of Thanks Speech at the Graduation ceremony. I went on to complete an MSc in Psychology, graduating top of my class and received an award for the best thesis. I am currently working as a Children & Young People’s Social Worker for Suffolk County Council.

Adult learning for me has been the catalyst for change. It has enabled me to achieve a career I’m passionate about, enabled me to escape the benefits system, and enabled me to secure a mortgage. But most importantly, my children tell me that my learning journey has taught them that no matter the odds, you have the power to change, and determination determines your destination.

Shahida Aslam, Director of Operations, Helena Kennedy Foundation, said:

‘Jo has shown tremendous courage by taking the steps she did to go back to education as a mature student. She had to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and we are so proud of what she has accomplished and continues to do so.’