Mary Goulty

Mary is completing her Level 3 Playwork apprenticeship. In this interview, she talks about being an advocate for meaningful play and how her TA, Michelle David, helped her to balance the demands of studying and working…

Mary’s story

Mary is a playwork assistant in a childminding provision, working towards her Level 3 Playwork apprenticeship qualifications. It’s a ‘home from home’ environment, where children lead the way through play.

Mary’s duties include ensuring the needs of each child are met, from a nurturing and caring perspective, providing opportunities for developmental progress in an inclusive environment. She ensures that all the children are suitably stimulated with stage-appropriate resources and correct amounts of adult intervention to support where needed.

The provision takes account of all children’s views and opinions to plan a safe and interesting space for children to learn through play. 

“I have tremendous respect and appreciation for Michelle. She has been wonderfully supportive”

What impact has your apprenticeship had?

Doing the current qualification has really opened my eyes to children’s play.

Has it changed how you do your job?

It has given me a greater and deeper understanding of children within the play space and how crucial it is for children to be able to play. Before starting the qualification, I thought play was just that, children playing. With everything I am learning, I can be a positive advocate for children’s play. This has impacted my work tremendously with all positive outcomes.

Have you had good feedback since starting the qualification?

My manager has been very happy with everything I am learning and sharing with her, which is all new to her also and this is apparent in my appraisals. 

How has TSW and your TA, Michelle David, supported you?

I have tremendous respect and appreciation for Michelle. She has been wonderfully supportive.

I’ve not had an easy start to the qualification and felt swamped quite quickly with home life, work life and qualification units and couldn’t find the right balance.

I had been out of learning for a long time so it was all new to me.

With all the help and support I’ve had from Michelle, I persevered and have continued with the qualification.

Without Michelle I would have thrown the towel in, she gave me the confidence to carry on and I am truly grateful for that. There hasn’t been an occasion where Michelle has refused to help, was unreachable by message or email at any point, or not been able to answer a query.

What’s next in your learning journey?

Going forward with my qualification under my belt, I will be looking at more avenues for learning and progression in the playwork area.

A view from Michelle David, Mary’s Training Advisor

I have observed Mary with the children on several occasions and she is an absolute credit to the provision.

The children are so confident, open and honest with her as she is fun, positive and  makes sure each child is respected and valued as an individual.

Mary had difficulty juggling the pressures of completing a Diploma along with working and running a family home. She felt she couldn’t commit fully as she didn’t have the time.

I thought it would be a waste for Mary not to complete her Diploma as the evidence and observations I had already gathered all directed to Mary being a great practitioner and a benefit to the children in her area.

I adapted my delivery to ensure more progress was made during work hours and with additional visits to allow for an easier learning journey, allowing Mary to gain the qualification she deserves.

Mary has expressed appreciation of me having confidence in her and is even thinking of progressing through further CPD and going on to higher level qualifications on completion.

I am happy that Mary re-considered ‘throwing in the towel’ as it would be such a waste for the sector to have lost a genuinely lovely person and a passionate advocate of play.


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