Shabana Butt completed the Step Up to HE programme at Staffordshire University and is now starting level 5 of her Criminal Justice with Offender Management degree (second year of a three year degree and third year with a foundation year degree). Shabana shares her experiences of studying the Step Up programme and how it helped prepare her for further study.
From a young age I was always fascinated with the law and the criminal justice system and toyed with the idea of becoming a solicitor working in the criminal justice sector. I left school with some GCSEs but did not progress to further or higher education. Fast forward in time to 2019, and my children were now of secondary school age and I felt that the time was now right for me to ‘do something for me’ and take up studying in higher education.
I saw an ad on my sister’s FaceBook for the Step Up to HE at Staffordshire University. I went onto the Staffordshire university website and started to research how to enrolL on the the ‘Step Up’ programme. I completed an online application form and then had an interview with Ashley Cotton who was running the programme.
I received an email letting me know that I was successful in the interview; I was offered a place on the step of programme and enrolled on the course, which started in April 2019. I was excited and a bit nervous of what I was letting myself in for. I had face to face sessions with Ashley and Judy Rimmer, and we were given sessions on study skills, essay writing and academic referencing. I was shown how to set out an academic piece of work and how to use Harvard (a referencing system). We were involved in some basic group discussions and some simple presentations. The whole purpose of the Step Up to HE seemed to be to preparing us for study in higher education and we had the opportunity to write an essay about a subject of our choice. We were asked to complete an assignment discussing a medical situation; I wrote about diabetes.
I submitted the assignment on Turnitin on Blackboard; we had been shown how to use Turnitin on the programme. I knew that if I was successful, I would be able to progress to a full degree at Staffordshire university. I was excited and really pleased, because I had worked very hard and got 70% on my assignment. It was the first time I had undertaken an academic piece of writing since I was at school, but the help of Ashley and the other tutors my experience was absolutely fantastic and really built my confidence. Ashley and the tutors put on a graduation ceremony for us, and we had a buffet, pictures were taken and we were made to feel very special by Staffordshire University.
I was still interested in law and the criminal justice system, so I enrolled on the LLB with a Foundation Year (FY). I had a great time on the foundation year and received a lot of support and met a lot of really nice friends, some of whom I still I’m in contact with and are on the same course as me now. It was far more intense undertaking the full-time foundation year as we had four modules and were required to be in the university for a lot longer.
I had a lot of support by my tutors on level three on the foundation year and I could see how there was a natural progression from the ‘Step Up’ Programme to the FY year. Both programmes provided me with ample support and the opportunity to develop my skills and build my confidence as I approached the full three-year programme. I really enjoyed my criminal law and criminal justice modules in the foundation year.
A level four student called Farida Zerglaine was on a course called Criminal Justice with Offender Management and she told me how she was really enjoying it. She said that she had a fantastic time on the level four and recommended that I go on to that because I liked the criminal side of my studies. I spoke to the course leader who was also the tutor my FY module – Louis Martin. He explained to me that the course was about people who are interested in working in the criminal justice sector working with offenders and young offenders. I was interested in working with young offenders in Stoke and had some experience of the youth offending service. I decided to transfer onto the Offender Management course, and I had a fantastic first year. All the support and guidance provided by Staffordshire university over the last two years really prepared me for success on the Offender Management course.
So here we are! I write this now as I start on level 5 and have already done some research for my research project on youth offending and I wrote a blog about this earlier on in the year. I can’t wait to start in October I’m really looking forward to it.
For more information about studying Offender Management with us, visit our Criminology course page to read more about our new Criminology with Offender Management pathway.