Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Love FE: A students perspective

Tomorrow 26th March is #LoveFE day; a day when those of us in FE try to demonstrate why the massive, unwarranted and debilitating cuts to our Funding are so damaging. 
We are inspired to say why we #LoveFE and why Governments should be investing in us, not subjecting us to a slow death by one thousand cuts. 

The views that follow are from a range of students I’ve taught over the years. They willingly shared their views of "what FE did for them". 

Some are young, some adult, all of them determined to make something of themselves. 

Their words are eloquent and very moving.

They came to FE Colleges because we were their beacon; their chance.

Read their words and then look me in the eye Mr Politician, and tell me that you are happy to deny the #FE opportunity to thousands of other students.

#FE is and always has been about students; they are the only reason we do it.


I was a mature student and went to college to study a foundation course and three GSCE's. My lecturers were extremely knowledgeable in their fields and started me on the road to writing academically and encouraged me to start critically analysing my own work. I am now about to graduate with a BA in Social Work and I am on placement in a Family Placement team and responsible for writing assessments for court.


Without the Access Course at college I wouldn't have been accepted at Bournemouth Uni. Furthermore ******* College went out of their way to ensure I have the enough credits in the appropriate science topics to help me, to the point that I was in a class of one! I am eternally grateful and now reap the rewards as a fully qualified nutritionist Thank you college!


School was difficult for me, I was badly bullied for various reasons - my appearance, my home life situation, the fact that i didn't quite fit anywhere. It was lonely and painful. I was a clever child, excelling in maths and History. I had big plans to go on and become a teacher but with every physical attack i lost the confidence. I lived in fear and this never ending fear led me to suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings on a regular basis; though i always tried to hide this, scared of giving more ammunition to the people who had no trouble in finding weaknesses themselves. Every punch knocked a bit more strength out of me. I did well in my GCSE's achieving the highest grades in my school. I was awarded with an academic excellence award and what should have been a celebrated achievement was just another reason to stand out from the crowd.

I applied for college, not really sure what i wanted to do anymore, not sure if i even wanted to stay in education - the one thing that had really made my life so miserable up to that point. On my first day of college i was petrified, what if the same happened all over again? I knew it would be slightly different, here i was seen as more of an adult than a child, and the people i knew were all going to change to but i still went in with the fear that every corner someone would be waiting for me.

But something was different. I made friends. Friends who worried when i didn't turn up, friends who would ask me to sit with them at lunch, friends who cared. And no-one picked on me. No one made my life a misery. i scraped by just achieving the grades i needed and now looking back i think i can be honest and say i did not achieve my potential but that didn't matter to me at the time. What mattered was that i changed as a person.

I found a new strength inside me, i found a place where i fitted in, where i belonged. I found a place where i was supported and where i mattered, where I was a person who counted. I had always tried to just fit in, to get through the day without being noticed, but at college i wanted something different. i wanted to stand out and i wanted to be known. First of all this came across in the wrong way but eventually when i settled down as a person i was able to do this in the right way; by helping out with college events, getting involved with the college magazine, by excelling in the one course i really loved- Stage Management.

My day to day worries were no longer how many punches i would suffer that day or how badly i would be hurt, but whether or not the set i had built would fit, or if i had analysed that poem in English correctly. I still struggled with dyslexia and being on the low end of the Autistic spectrum but the biggest tool college gave me was the people around me to overcome these every day challenges, people who believed in me, people who were prepared to invest time and effort in me, not because they had to but because they wanted to.

College gave me the strength to go on to higher education, to get into my first choice drama school, onto the course i wanted, which has led to me now having a career that i want, that i enjoy and that is rewarding on a daily basis. Because of the confidence, the strength and the determination that i gained from my time at college i have been able to go out in to a very cut throat industry and make a name for myself. I am 24 years old, have had 4 promotions in the past year, and am now top of my sector. 

I am a far cry from the 16 year old who entered college on that first day 7 years ago without any real hope in the world


I suppose for me college in its entirety was a reality check. I never struggled with school and yet my relationship with it was very one sided, it gave me everything and in return I put in no effort, took its good grades, hated it and left it at the first legal opportunity. I went to college and assumed same formula would get me by and after every bad grade I got for a year, I obnoxiously thought it was a one off and the next one would be good. It never was, they were all terrible and it wasn't until I found myself expelled from my first establishment ever purely on the basis of failing every course that it hit me that not everything is just going to fall into my lap in this life like school did.

The disappointment in my mother’s face really said it all, and I recall desperately logging onto the internet in hope that maybe another college would take me, and there top of google was a sponsored ad from ******* college advertising last minute registrations. I cut a deal with my mum to drive me there asap, she drove me there on condition that I grovel my lazy little guts out and I make a promise to myself not to cock it up this time.

I don’t know why ******* took me on, but I’m grateful. They taught me my life’s most profound lesson so far, life really doesn’t just land in your lap you have to go and earn it. Sometimes I wonder what person I would have been if I’d never failed that first try…


School for me was difficult, i wasnt able to work in lessons and found the whole structure of school increasingly difficult. I stopped going and began sneaking into my friends college classes and actually managed to sit my gcses and pass. At college i was diagnosed with a few learning difficulties and got the levels of support i needed to pass my courses. School nil college 1


College actually helped me to organise my thoughts regarding career interests and guided me through the process of finding out just what was available and how to go about getting into the industries that interested me the most. Before college, for example, I knew I had a love for Egyptian history and that I wanted to pursue archaeology, but I would *never* have been able to work my way around the mine field that is ‘non-linear’ career paths. On a personal level it also helped me find myself, make lasting friends and to see things from a different perspective, namely that it’s ok to want to push and be the best you can be intellectually, academically, career wise etc.

Although I have gone on to university in both undergrad and post grad capacities, I honestly feel that, even if I hadn’t got a set career path in mind, College gave me the freedom to have the necessary academic qualifications behind me that could lead me to almost any discipline I wanted – it’s actually pretty cool to walk in there knowing that your A-levels are the first step to being whatever you want to be whether that’s an archaeologist, a bio-chemist, a music teacher, an astronaut…we all have to start somewhere and that’s at college.


College gave me the skills & confidence to go onto higher education. I developed as person thanks to lecturers helping me make life decisions xx


College was a massive learning experience for me. Not only was I almost completely in charge of managing my own studies, I was living away from my family as well. I really enjoyed being able to do a range of subjects including pottery/sculpture as additional credit. I also made friends that I still see (10 years later) and can regress with. I am still in touch with some of my old Lecturers, who continue to inspire me. 

College was an amazing part of my life, not only because it helped me get to uni and into my career in London, but because it helped me, become me.


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