Staff in the Spotlight: Clea Spinks

January 8, 2021

At HSDC we have a number of highly-skilled, dedicated and passionate staff.

They go above and beyond to help our students reach their full potential. We want to shout about these integral members of our HSDC community, so every month we will be finding out about the people behind our teaching excellence with our ‘Staff in the Spotlight’ feature.

This month we are recognising Clea Spinks, who is an AAT Workbase Apprenticeship Assessor and Lecturer at our South Downs Campus.

How long have you worked at the College?

I have been working for HSDC just over two years. I started out as bank staff teaching AAT Level 2 and now, as well as continuing to teach, I work part time as an accountancy apprenticeship assessor.

Why did you choose the subject that you teach?

I completed my AAT qualification in 2012 and my then tutor asked me if I would like to give teaching a go. She must have seen something in me as it was never something that had crossed my radar. In fact, the thought of standing up in front of a class of people did not come naturally to me and was slightly terrifying BUT, as I always stress to my students today, you have to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, get into character, put on the costume and play the part! Pretty soon it starts to come naturally.

It also helps that I believe strongly that AAT is an accessible, valuable and practical qualification.

What was your journey/training before coming to HSDC?

I’ve been around a bit and in fact it always surprises me when I get the old CV out and see what I have done over the years that I’ve completely forgotten about. Every job I’ve done has given me some sort of experience, whether good or bad, that I can use to this day. My first “proper” job was with John Lewis in their electrical department, back in the days when plugs had to be wired onto appliances (I was trained to do so for the ‘Ladies who Lunch’ and had long nails so couldn’t possibly!). My dream then was to roam the world shopping for items to be sold in their store. Sadly, I got fed up of working weekends so decided to move into an office job. I’ve worked for others, including publishers, solicitors and coffee carts, carrying out all aspects of office duties including dabbling in their accounts in a self-taught way. Once I had a child I found working for local government a far more family-friendly place to work and it was there I found my feet in educational finance. I started my AAT journey sponsored by Islington Council in London. I then moved my family out of London to Hampshire and worked for Hampshire County Council, where they continued to sponsor my AAT learning.

Do you practice the subject you teach outside of work?

Yes, I work in a local primary school as a Business Manager which includes all aspects of budgets, payroll and finance. I do a little bookkeeping and I am an accountancy apprenticeship assessor here at HSDC South Downs.

What is the highlight of your role at HSDC?

I love the students I teach. As I teach mainly evenings I have a huge variety of ages and backgrounds. I teach those aged from 16 to 60 and they all bring something different. I love that this is a qualification fit for all who really can make a difference to people’s lives. It’s as good for a school leaver entering the job market, a mother looking to get back into the workplace as it is for an older person looking for a change. It fits all.

What kind of careers have your students gone on to do?

The great thing about finance and accounts is that it can take you anywhere. Every business has a finance department so whatever your interests are you can go there: it could be fashion, TV, music, cars or go into practice and cover a wide range. For me it was education but my ex-students pop up here and there; one is now the boss of an apprentice that I look after in a travel firm.

What is something about your job that people don’t know?

It’s not all about numbers! You need to be confident with numbers but it’s more rules and good communication; people skills are just as important.

What three words would your students use to describe you?

Cheerful, Professional, Approachable

How do you relax outside of work?

I watch telly, swim (when the pools are open) and walk. I hang out with my youngest daughter and meet up with the older two and family when I can.