The ‘5 minutes with’ series brings you interviews with our freelance partners from all sectors of the company. This week focuses on Penny, one of our specialist mentors. We wanted to share a better look at what life is like as a support professional and the passion our freelancers bring to the team. Penny has recently won an award from Clarion UK for her outstanding contributions. The below will help you see why… no brainer! 

What is your role and how long have you been doing it?

I have been a specialist mentor for Clarion UK for 3 years now and can honestly say I absolutely love my job. The Clarion UK team are the best associates I have ever worked with. They are genuinely there to support me to do my role to the best of my ability and enable me to provide students with the quality provision which they require and deserve. 

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Being a female with Asperger’s, ADHD, dyslexia, sensory processing differences and anxiety myself, and having 4 sons, 3 of whom have a similar range of neurodiverse and mental health needs, I am able to combine my life experience with my qualifications and CPD to ensure the students I work with feel understood and appropriately supported. Each student receives a personalised approach which makes the role so varied and interesting. As a result the students I have worked with have all successfully completed the relevant stages of study and have learned to better understand and regulate themselves, which positively impacts on their ability to study effectively. 

What is it like working with your students?

The students I work with have one thing in common, determination and high expectations upon themselves; which is a double edge sword at times but makes my job so very worthwhile as I am able to capture this and support them to achieve their potential.

Why do you do what you do?

In a nutshell, I have seen my children struggle and be failed by the education system. I fought hard for them to be understood and appropriately supported and am now seeing their wings grow; seeing them happy again and achieving in all areas of development is so very rewarding.  My sister took her life back in 2003, she was failed. No person with neurodiverse differences or mental health difficulties should be failed to the extent that they give up on their dreams or feel life is not worth living. 

What is your motivation?

I am passionate about creating equal opportunities and ensuring a level playing field with peers. I strive to create the platform for the students I work with to achieve their goals and, more importantly, help them to believe they can and will. Together we break down barriers and achieve positive outcomes. 

I know my job is done when students’ no longer need me and I feel secure in the knowledge that they have the mindset, self-belief, confidence, support networks in place, and strategies they need to go solo. 

It is a real privilege to be a member of Clarion UK’s mentor team and to be a part of their students journeys. 

If you would like to take part in our ‘5 minutes with’ series or have any questions about joining our freelance network, please get in touch with Chloe – 

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