A UNIVERSITY of Worcester student and a mum-of-three has been celebrating a triple triumph in the same week.

Emma Bailey graduated from her degree in Early Childhood Professional practice on November 3, and the next day travelled to Birmingham in collect the TACTYC Student Reflections Award at the organisation’s annual conference at the International Conference Centre.

In the same week the Worcester resident received a Pro Vice Chancellor’s student award for the outstanding quality of her final year dissertation at the glittering awards dinner at the University of Worcester.

The 25-year-old, who has run a child care business with her husband for the past three years, decided to return to study for a degree at the University of Worcester to enhance her own professional practice.

“I wanted to further myself academically and professionally,” she said.

“A couple of the other people I met through work had done the Early Childhood Professional practice degree at Worcester and said it was amazing.

“It wasn’t always easy balancing my studies with the needs of my family and the business.

“It could get tiring, but it was good tired, like going to the gym.

“My third child came along partway through my second year, but the University were very supportive and in a lot of ways the study helped.”

Emma secured the Student Reflections Award for her paper entitled Placing Trust in Play, in which she called for a re-evaluation of the role of the practitioner in free play, and argued that free play can be purposeful.

“I wanted practitioners to feel bolstered, to feel that, even when a child is free-playing, the practitioner has a role and is being useful,” Emma explained. “Children often don’t need you when they free play, so what is your role as a practitioner? What do you, in the simplest terms, ‘do’?”

Emma has now begun studying for a Master’s in Education at Worcester.

“In terms of my career as a practitioner, the undergraduate degree gave me everything I need professionally, but I’m carrying on studying because I love the academic work,” she added.

“The paper that I wrote for TACTYC - the one that won the award - has been published, and I like seeing my name amongst all those academics.

“A lot of them begin with ‘Dr’, and who knows, maybe that will be me one day.”