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Confidence, career goal and a triple salary hike – Sam’s happy with her study gains

Sam Burge

“There are so many positives,” says Sam Burge, of her study with the OU.

The 56-year-old mother of three is close to achieving her ambition to teach religion at secondary school in September 2023.

She remembers how she took her own leap of faith to embark on her goal and overcame one obstacle after another along the way, citing the confidence and skills she gained from her OU study as the impetus she needed to succeed.

With a history of working in retail and at a school in various supporting roles, Sam is now on track to earn three times her previous wage teaching and feels “proud and valued”.

Resilience and determination shone through

Sam studied a BA Hons in Religion, Philosophy & Ethics and says it equipped her with a broad range of skills, relevant for employment.

Key among them, she says, were “my ability to study and write to an academic level, to understand and disseminate what I was reading, researching. To learn about a broad range of topics, enjoy learning and gained confidence in my knowledge.”

Both the headteacher at the school Sam will be working at and her current university tutor, in addition to others before them, have commended Sam on her organisational skills as well as her resilience, hard work, determination, and subject knowledge, saying they really valued the OU route.

A self-confessed low achiever back in her schooldays and someone who had to find a job at 16, Sam reached store manager level in the retail sector before having children in her early twenties. But some years on, her dream of becoming a teacher prevailed.

“I have always worked hard and been successful at anything I have put my mind to, but I have always wished I had progressed in my studies. I didn’t expect to succeed in my degree, I thought I would “give it a go” and see how I managed.

Over six years and whilst working, Sam not only completed her degree, but also achieved the necessary GCSE passes in Maths and English and a PGCE to see her on track as a qualified secondary school teacher.

“I would NEVER have had the confidence to go back to college and resit my maths 38 years later had it not been for my OU experience. I realised that the skills I had developed throughout my degree had set me up into a great place,” says Sam.

“There’s a whole OU community out there to help”

Sam recommends the OU and advises current students to get involved and meet others.

“I was involved in Facebook groups for my modules, I ran a few for my modules. I supported other students generally and encouraged work colleagues and friends to study with the OU.

And of the study itself, she says: “It’s a lot at first and can be over-whelming but if you ask and tell people you are unsure there is a huge OU community who have all been there too and wish to help others.  The main thing is start, take each module as you go, don’t think ahead too much!”

“I wished I had started sooner, not put if off thinking I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t do it. I did and I now realise it was only me holding myself back. I had support, great tutors and felt valued and supported throughout.”

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