Colleges Week 2021 - Get In, Go Further!

19th October 2021 10:34am - Return to press releases

Colleges Week 2021 - Get In, Go Further!

Every October, colleges, students and businesses celebrate Colleges Week. A chance to celebrate the brilliant things colleges do to build communities, boost businesses and support people of all ages. This year’s Colleges Week theme is ‘Get in, Go Further’, which will showcase all the great things that happen in colleges every day and celebrate the journeys that colleges take their students on.  

On that theme, East Riding College revisited two student journeys that ultimately led to students becoming staff members.

Tutor Lewis Singleton now teaches in the media department, but back in 2018 he was celebrating gaining a first-class honours degree in Contemporary Media, Design and Production from the University of Hull.  He was also awarded HE Student of the Year at the College graduation ceremony in 2018.  At the time Lewis thought this was the end of a 9 year journey with East Riding College which took him from level one (pre-GCSE) to level 6 (honours degree).

Lewis had joined the College in 2009 from Northcott Special School, starting on a foundation programme before moving through the levels and moving to study in the media department, where he has progressed to degree level.   Lewis achieved this despite having autism, OCD, dyspraxia and dyslexia. 

Lewis said, “I’m on the autistic spectrum and its evident there is a lack of opportunity out there for people like me and that's what the College and degree gave me - an opportunity, a chance to find my purpose.  I would recommend it to everyone who’s looking to gain valuable qualifications, studying at this College was the best decision I made.”

Little did Lewis know that his journey with the College would continue.  Whilst studying for his degree he had developed a passion for teaching, and decided to pursue this career path, although he knew it would not be easy, given his learning difficulties.  He signed up to do a teacher training course at the College. After landing a placement there, he became a trainee tutor and then once qualified, a part-time tutor in Media.   

Watch Lewis' interview on Autism Awareness

screen grab of Lewis talking to Jodie

Member of staff and former student, Kirsty Young returned to work at the College after studying social work and working in child services.

Kirsty was a victim of child grooming from the age of fourteen and suffered domestic and sexual violence as a result. For four years she had no contact with her family or the outside world. By the time she was nineteen she had two children, was pregnant for the third time and found herself facing homelessness. At that point her family found out about her situation and she was re-introduced back to them. However, by this time she had suffered so much abuse, she was suicidal and was suffering de-personalisation disorder and was on the anorexic scale. She eventually moved to her own home under police protection in 2007.

Encouraged by her mum, she joined East Riding College to do a level one in health and social care. During her time at the College she learned how to communicate with others and gained some self-confidence. Her learning journey took off from there, and with the encouragement and support of the staff at the College and her family and friends, she moved through the qualification levels until she was able to progress to university.

Kirsty says, “Initially my motivation for learning was to try to build some self-esteem and to re-learn how to fit in within society after being isolated and controlled for so long. I wanted to provide a future for my children to give them the best start in life and free them from hardship. I wanted my children to have opportunities to be happy and to succeed.  I had fantastic supporters at the College who could see my potential even when I couldn’t, such as my guidance officer who provided me with much needed motivation when I didn’t see my own value.  As I progressed, my hopes were to succeed in education so that in the future I could work in a role supporting young people to help them succeed in life and achieve their best outcomes. I wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“Learning has changed my life forever.  It has given me a future full of opportunities and possibilities.  I didn’t think I was clever enough to achieve in anything, so university wasn’t even a consideration. Learning has taught me education is for everyone. It has helped me grow as a person and allowed me to gain confidence and learn my own value.  The qualifications I gained mean I can work as a Learning Support Advisor. I support students who have additional needs such as learning and physical disabilities, in a wide variety of subjects on their learning journeys. I meet many students who have had negative learning or life experiences which affects their views of education and themselves. I try to inspire students with my own story and teach them that they can achieve.  My learning journey has ultimately influenced my own children and they too have a positive attitude towards learning with goals of their own for their futures.”

In September 2020, Kirsty was accepted onto a PGCE course, with the aim of becoming a teacher for those with learning disabilities. She put her plans on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions but her learning journey had continued and she started her teacher training in September 2021. In the future Kirsty also hopes to do a Masters degree at the University of Hull in Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity.

Watch Kirsty's video - filmed following her Returning to Learning Award at the Festival of Learning 

Kirsty standing outside Bridlington campus