Berni Heffron: Education, Thurrock


Hi, I’m Berni

Working with children has always been a passion of mine and after being a theatre nurse for 19 years, I chose to change career and become a Learning Support Assistant at East Tilbury Primary School, working in the behavioural provision unit.

The department strives to provide a calm environment where children can learn the routine of academic life and gain individual support while discovering how to manage their emotional dysregulation. The role is demanding and can often be mentally exhausting but the rewards of seeing children grow and develop, sometimes enough to re-enter mainstream school, is incredibly rewarding.

I am also an adult volunteer and commissioned officer at our local secondary school’s Combined Cadet Force unit (army division). This provides me with the opportunity to teach children how to develop teamwork, discipline, and a very different skill base. I thoroughly believe that this role has given me the tools that I need to aid the development and growth of all the children I work with. As well as this I am currently studying for a psychology degree part-time to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the work that I do.

During the pandemic, I focused on the children – my own (I am a single parent to three beautiful children), those I support at East Tilbury Primary School as well as the cadets I could teach virtually – and my studies.

The children within the provision rely on the routine of school life and so for some of them, the pandemic was great stress on their mental health. As a team, we all worked around our family life and health to ensure that we could continue to provide the stability that the children required. When we couldn’t physically be with them, we ensured that they had their own computer to be able to connect and learn with us virtually.

I am delighted to be taking part in The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant; The Queen is a true inspiration.  I wrote to her when I was eight years old and still have her replies!  Her resilience, strength and consistency is something we should all aspire to.

“I am in awe of how hardworking and dedicated Berni is, not only to her job and the children she works with, but how much she does alongside this. As well as being a single parent to three beautiful daughters, Berni runs a voluntary cadet group and is completing her degree. She really is superwoman and a true inspiration!” – extract from the key worker nomination for Berni

Berni and her three daughters on a day out

We're all connected; to Her Majesty the Queen; to each other; to the past, present and future

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