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Ellie's story

Ellie working with children who are sitting on a playmat

Ellie Curtis was worried that autism would affect her career prospects. But now she’s showing other disabled people how rewarding an apprenticeship can be. 

Inspired to work with children

Twenty-year-old Ellie, from Rogiet, always wanted to work with young children, having been inspired by her mother who worked as a childminder throughout Ellie’s childhood. 

Ellie said; “I attended college to study childcare, but I felt there was very little support for my additional learning needs as I’m autistic and have dyslexia, so I often struggled to keep up with what the tutor was asking of us. 

Finding additional learning support

“At school I had a support worker that I could talk to if I was feeling overwhelmed, or if I needed some more time to understand and work through my courses. When I joined college, I started to feel isolated and lost.

“I knew I wanted to work with young children, so I looked into other routes. I turned to ACT Training for support who pointed me in the direction of an apprenticeship. They told me that on-the-job training would give me the additional support I was looking for.”

Joining the family business

Working at her mother’s nursery was not always the plan for Ellie, but when she initially struggled to find a paid apprenticeship in her hometown, her adviser suggested she consider joining the family business as the nursery’s first apprentice. 

Ellie has now completed her Level 3 Playwork Apprenticeship at Little Tigers Day Care in Monmouthshire, a pre-primary nursery. During her training, Ellie also completed numerous additional courses and worked with children with Autism spectrum disorder.  

Gaining new skills and a promotion

Using the skills gained from additional training courses, and with her own personal experience and knowledge of additional learning needs, Ellie was recently promoted to Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator.

Ellie said: “Day-to-day, I’m responsible for all of the children in our care who have additional learning needs. I work with the speech and language therapists, as well as the health visitors, to create individual development plans for the children.”

The next stage

To further develop her skills, Ellie is currently working towards her Level 5 Management Apprenticeship. 

She continued: “I love working with the children the most, I feel I can be a role model for them because I really understand what it’s like. It’s quite funny how the children with additional learning needs take so well to me. At the nursery, we have one little girl who often experiences uncontrollable outbursts that no one is able to stop, but the second I go over to her, it’s as if I’ve waved a magic wand and she’s fine within a couple of minutes!

“My role can be challenging, but it’s also so rewarding. My ultimate goal is to work solely with children who have additional learning needs, and I’m hoping that my Level 5 in Management will open doors for me into the next stage of my career.”


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