I loved my time at University and feel that LTU is unique. It has a real sense of community and I am overjoyed to part of it again.
Katie Simpson (nee Fussey) graduated from Leeds Trinity University in 2001, having completed a BA Hons in English and Media Studies. Since leaving University she has predominantly worked in Project Management in Local Authority roles and in Higher Education, most recently as Head of Partnership Development and Lecturer at York St John University.
In September 2018 Katie returned to Leeds Trinity, this time in a professional capacity as a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Social and Health Sciences. She teaches a module called Academic Skills and Studying with Confidence, which builds on her previous role as a Lecturer at York St John University, supporting Foundation Degree students. This is in addition to her role as a Director for BrightSparks Community Interest Company.
We were delighted to welcome Katie back and also asked her a few more questions about her experience as a student and her career since graduating.
How does it feel to be back on campus?
I can’t believe how amazing the campus looks and how much it has developed. I can’t wait to get back to LTU as I loved my time at University and feel that LTU is unique. It has a real sense of community and I am overjoyed to being part of it again.
What made you choose to attend Leeds Trinity University?
Leeds Trinity was a small contained campus and compared to others it felt like it had a real sense of community. My course offered work placements and I felt this was beneficial for future employability. The University had a great reputation for media and the facilities and support available outshone other institutions.
What are your best memories from your time here?
The best thing was making amazing friendships. I still see the girls that I lived with and we have some fantastic memories from our time at Leeds Trinity. As well as studying the subjects that I loved, living close to Leeds city centre was a great experience.
What three words would you use to describe Leeds Trinity?
Community, friendship and support.
How do you feel your time at Leeds Trinity has supported you in your career and life more generally?
I think it gave me a good grounding. The skills I gained were really useful and transferrable. I undertook two placements and these helped me to decide what sort of career I wanted to pursue.
So, as well as returning as a Visiting Lecturer you are also a Director for BrightSparks Community Interest Company – can you tell us more about this role?
BrightSparks Community Interest Company, a York based Community Interest Company was set up two years ago. It provides learning and development courses on a range of subjects and also provides research, evaluation and impact support so that other organisations can understand how their service and support help to improve lives. We also work on social enterprise projects and are based at Tribe York which is a great social enterprise incubation hub in the heart of York.
We specialise in writing funding bids for organisations and recently BrightSparks' sister company, Social Impact Services, secured a £3.3million contract for children's disability charity KIDS. We are very proud of the difference this will make. In my role I lead several adult learning courses, around the subjects of parenting and working with children and young people. I also lead on community research projects and we have contracts with Local Authorities and Universities to undertake independent evaluations.
Katie pictured with a group of refugee students she taught in Hull (summer 2018) on BrightSparks Skills for Employability course.
Tell us about your previous career history
I started my career as a Connexions Personal Advisor, and went on to managing multi-agency Youth Service Teams and then worked with refugees as a Development Officer for English for Speakers of Other Languages and Family Learning.
I joined the Faculty of Education and Theology, York St John University, in March 2009, having spent several years working for local authorities and the voluntary sector in Children and Young People's services in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
My role at York St John University was to create and develop partnerships with a range of organisations. This included other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), local authorities, communities, faiths and voluntary groups. I worked closely with organisations to facilitate the development of new accreditation opportunities, new modules and bidding opportunities. I was also involved in developing Widening Participation initiatives across the faculty, including short courses and taster sessions in the community.
I taught on the Foundation Certificate in Trauma and Attachment for Foster Carers. I loved being in a Higher Education environment and that I got an opportunity to learn something new every day.
I also have a Master's degree in Educational Improvement, Development and Change, York St John University, 2012. In 2013, I became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).
What advice would you give current students/recent graduates embarking on a similar career path?
Your career path might not have a straight trajectory immediately away but be patient. Gain as much experience as possible, try to make good contacts and be willing to work hard to get to where you want to be.