Access Student Profiles
James Bevan - Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year 2012
Eighteen year old James Bevan has been on an incredible learning journey, overcoming major challenges on the way - for James, who is the lone carer for his parents, and who has suffered for years at the hand of bullies is awarded Agored Cymru's Access to HE Learner of the Year.
James, from St Athan, resigned himself to the idea that he was a failure. Leaving school without any formal qualifications he lost his confidence and contact with his school friends and became a recluse for a year.
The trauma of his experiences in school, coupled with his social exclusion made him very timid and quiet. However after a year of little social interaction he found the courage to enroll at Cardiff and Vale College in 2010.
After excellent GCSE results he was accepted onto the Access to Higher Education course and blossomed into a confident, articulate individual who was voted as course representative by his peers.
James chose to study a fourth, elective subject in addition to the compulsory three which are the core of this intensive course. He has successfully balanced his studies with caring for his physically disabled mother and schizophrenic father, and is on course to achieve his diploma with 45 distinctions – the maximum possible.
James said, "To even be considered for this award was an achievement and an honour in itself. To actually win the award is another story entirely. I am overwhelmed and delighted. College so far has been a testing but fulfilling journey. To say it has been anything less than the best time of my life would be selling it short.”
"Everyone can succeed in whatever they want to do but sometimes it takes time and a lot of effort and support.
After experiencing the challenges of balancing my home and college-life, my ambition to succeed not only for myself but also for my parents is even stronger. I am extremely thankful to my tutors for all their support during my studies and I could not have succeeded without my peers who are all wonderful people and some who I consider to be my closest friends. I am now confident that I can achieve my dream of going to University”.
Janet Barlow, Chief Executive of Agored Cymru said, “James really stands out as an excellent example and inspiration to others to achieve their full potential.”
Colin Faulkner - Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year 2011
A father of two, who was inspired by his disabled son to return to full time education in order to pursue his goal of becoming a social worker, is Agored Cymru’s Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year.Colin Faulkner, from Cwmbran, was 33 when he enrolled on the Access to Higher Education Combined Studies course at Coleg Gwent. Despite having only a few formal qualifications, a hearing disability and a young family to look after, he was determined to complete the course and gain entry to train to be a Social Worker at University.
Colin feels very lucky to have a supportive wife and family and is looking forward to a new baby boy arriving soon.
Claire Bell (née Jepson)
When Claire started the Access course in Coleg Menai, Bangor in 2006 she had wanted to do business or accountancy but they weren't on offer at that time so she opted to do Social Sciences. Although Claire enjoyed the psychology and sociology she found the social welfare quite hard going. Due to personal circumstances Claire didn’t complete the course.
In 2007 Claire moved to Swansea to get married, and after a two year break, Claire enrolled on a Business course at Swansea College. This time Claire was on the right course for her. Claire has really enjoyed all aspects of the Access to Business course. The subjects have been challenging, the tutors are friendly, approachable and all work as a great team. There is a wide mix of students on the course, and a great mix of ages and nationalities. Learning about other people’s backgrounds has been quite an eye-opener.
Agored Cymru has changed the system from previous years in the way assignments are marked. Now, instead of just having either a level 2 or 3, the level 3 is now broken down into credit, merit and distinction. The criteria needed to reach a distinction are set out in the assignment brief and the end result marked accordingly. Claire has been able to discuss with tutors how and where to improve assignments and now Claire is achieving distinctions - it has helped enormously. This has boosted Claire’s confidence in her ability to do the assignments and pass the course.
Claire says: ‘My course tutor has helped me to apply to university. I have been offered a place at the Swansea Metropolitan University to study Project and Construction Management. This place is conditional on passing the course’. Claire now feels ready for the next big step and thanks to her tutors it doesn't seem such a big step anymore.
We caught up with Gareth, who featured in our previous Access publication. Gareth left school with one GCSE above grade C, but despite this has since gained a number of qualifications including Maths and English at GCSE. Gareth’s educational pathway has helped him to pursue his goal of teaching.
Gareth went on to gain a Popular Music degree at the University of Glamorgan after completing the Access to Humanities course at Coleg Glan Hafren. Whilst studying for the degree Gareth taught for 3 hours a week at Glan Hafren to gain teaching experience which was his ultimate goal, but as the university course work increased Gareth stopped teaching to concentrate on his studies. Gareth graduated with first class honours.
The organisational skills gained from the Access course played a key role in Gareth’s success in higher education.
After five years of continuous adult education Gareth has taken a year out, and hopes to start a Further Education PGCE course in September 2010.
For Belinda Access to Higher Education was a life changing experience. She will be going to Bangor University next year to study Sociology and Religious Studies, in her words, ‘to follow her dream’.
As a mum of five, the demands on her time were considerable but Belinda has put her studies high on her list of priorities and that is why she succeeded.
She says, "The crèche at college has been brilliant, without that I could not have done this. I have had virtually no social life for the last 9 months but that is the price of success, I want university so much I consider that sacrifice more than worthwhile. I have made some great friends and have grown so much this year, my confidence has never been higher and I can’t wait for the next challenge – University.”
Belinda has since embarked on a one-woman marketing campaign for Access to HE, which she sees as her opportunity for education denied to her earlier and as having changed her life completely.
She will be relocating to Bangor, taking the whole family to a new life, she is confident that they will love the experience.
Belinda’s tutor Josie Slater said, “Belinda is just one of the many inspiring students we see on Access courses her at Deeside College each year. The courses offer students a life changing opportunity that may have passed them by when they were in school.”