National Apprenticeship Week 2021 – Poppy Turner


I’m Poppy Turner and I’m a Curriculum Support Officer within the Academic Unit of Medical Education in the Medical School. My role includes planning and delivery of clinical teaching blocks, longitudinal placements, large-scale summative assessments and then the “busiest” part of my role finishes nicely with planning a 4-week community placement for our students. Every day is different and Working from Home with my 5-month-old puppy makes for some very interesting days!

I started my role back in 2018 on a 6-month secondment and here I am 3 years later submerged into a fantastically supportive environment. Having started my career as an apprentice in 2012, I knew I needed to “up the anti” in terms of qualifications, knowing that experience will get you far, but to go really far you need to have something on paper too. I completed a Level 3 Standard in Business Administration and somehow managed to pass with a Distinction in October 2019, by the New Year I had started on my Level 4 NVQ in Business Administration and have just completed that.  I studied for both qualifications by being granted with 20% of my working hours as protected time alongside being a Curriculum Support Officer. 

I was blown away with the flexibility and support, by my employer and my colleagues but also by my training provider. I could slow things right down on my Apprenticeship during particularly hectic times of the day job, and then pick things back up again after. This level of flexibility and the vocational approach to my own learning and development is what really attracted me to take the leap. 

My favourite aspect of both apprenticeships was hands down the amount of time I got to reflect on my own skills, knowledge and where I could improve. I found myself writing essay reflections on my role and specific tasks and then immediately using the essay as a basis for future planning and enhancing current systems and processes. Where else do you get the chance to reflect and drill down into the nitty gritty of what you do, whilst also earning a qualification!? 

Having the ability to reflect so much and delve into the world of research-based business models has really helped me understand the reasons behind doing things, rather than getting them done without a second thought to hit those all-important deadlines. I don’t manage people in my role, and I know that I need experience and knowledge in management to take my career to the next level. studying modules such as Managing the work of an administrative function also taught me how to evaluate, analyse and explain. 

I am still in the early stages of my career and want to absorb every opportunity I can before I fulfill my goal of being a good manager of people and processes and hopefully someday taking on a title such as Departmental Manager. I set my goals high and I cannot think of any better employer than the University to help me achieve those goals. 

So, would I recommend doing something like an Apprenticeship? Without a doubt. If you are thinking about it or have been pondering for a while…. Just go for it! Ask your manager about access to the Apprenticeship Levy funding and do some research into what you’d like to do, there are so many training providers around and you can effectively choose which you’d like best. I used The Source Academy near Meadowhall and can recommend them wholeheartedly. I hope to begin a Chartered Manager degree with the Open University this year too, so I’ll keep you posted on that.