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Published 14th Mar 2012

Lawrence Crabb

Studying at Teesside University helped Major Lawrence Crabb switch his career from training army recruits to teaching primary school children.

He completed the BA (Hons) Business Management part-time while posted to the infantry training centre at Catterick Garrison as the Officer Commanding, The Prince of Wales’s Company.

Having served 17 years with the army, he is now embarking on a new career having secured a graduate teaching programme position in Worcester.

Lawrence said: “The work I did at Catterick was primarily leadership and management, overseeing the development of recruits and staff. Changing priorities and wanting to return to a more permanent base with my family led to my new career path.

“It’s been an exciting time and the degree was the catalyst in my change of career. I wouldn’t have been able to secure a place on the graduate teaching programme had I not completed the degree at Teesside. The degree gave me the confidence to embark on this new career path.”

He added: “As I was based in Catterick from Monday to Friday, it provided the ideal opportunity to study, as during the weekends I was back in Worcester with my family.”

Lawrence, who is from Worcester, added: “Although I had the leadership and management experience, I didn’t have the academic qualifications to match those personal and professional skills and I had begun to think about life after the army.

“I was able to draw on my own professional experience and bring this to the degree. I was always the one in my family who hadn’t been really academic, but doing the degree enabled me to prove to myself that I could do it.

“The degree really helped me to think about my job as it helped me to analyse the work which my staff were carrying out with the recruits. I could see and then shape things that needed to happen in the workplace, such as training theory. It led to different approaches in working with the recruits in order to get the best from them.”

Within the Prince of Wales's Company there are seven platoons, each with 48 recruits and a staff of six. The recruits complete a 26-week programme of training before joining their battalions.

He said: “I did start a foundation degree back in 2005, but was then posted to Afghanistan. When I was posted at Catterick, it felt like the natural time to return to study, largely as it was something which I had always wanted to do and also at that stage in my career I was thinking about life after the army.

“I really enjoyed being able to experience being a student while also having a job, I found that study and work meshed together well and I was able to bring a lot of what I was learning from the degree to my work. I enjoyed the cerebral challenge and I’m now thinking about the possibility of working towards a master’s.”

He added: “I joined the army when I was 18 mainly as I didn’t have the academic discipline to continue with study at that time. There is always time to develop yourself academically, no matter what stage you are at in your professional career. I had a really good experience throughout my time at Teesside University.”

Norma Sutcliffe, of Teesside University Business School, said: “For students such as Lawrence, work based studies (WBS) provide an innovative way to gain a degree using valuable experiential learning gained through work as the basis of the programme of study.

“Assessments are work based, allowing practical application of theory to the work role and providing learning experiences to support professional development and enhance skills.”

She added: “The programme allows students to gain significant higher education credits for previous learning, with many of our students employed in diverse roles as police officers, armed forces, office managers, fire service, paramedics and bank managers.”

For more information on work based studies contact programme leader Kevin Ions on or 01642 728310, or lecturer Norma Sutcliffe on or 01642 738299.

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