AoC Student of the Year runner up Simon celebrates national recognition

17th February 2022 Date of publication

Former Access to HE student Simon Wood (pictured below) is celebrating national recognition after being award runner up in the AoC Higher Education Student of the Year Award.

Returning to the classroom at 50 felt like a brave move for Redcar grandad, Simon Wood.

Never a fan of school, he remembers spending most of his time, keeping his head down at the back of the class.

But, with ambitions to work for the NHS, Simon discovered his passion for learning as an adult student at Redcar and Cleveland College.

Now, after starting a new career on a hospital ward at the height of covid, Simon has had his achievements recognised, named finalist and runner-up in the Association of College’s Student of the Year Awards.

Down to the final two in his award category, and just pipped at the post for the top spot of AoC Higher Education Student of the Year, Simon said: “It feels amazing to have made it this far!”

Looking back at his own school days, he remembers thinking higher education and awards were not something for him. Today he knows differently as the Access to Higher Education in Health course opened a host of new opportunities.

Volunteering to work at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough mid pandemic, Simon was quickly offered a permanent job. He is now a healthcare assistant in critical care.

Inspired to keep learning, the granddad-of-four moved on to a level 4 qualification in health and social care and is now studying a level 5 foundation degree in health, wellbeing and social support at the college.

Simon said: “As a child, I used to run away from school. The first time I came to the college, I was the quiet lad sat at the back of the class again.”

Gradually building his confidence, and even supporting his classmates where he can, Simon has eventually moved to the front of the class.

Looking back at his achievements over the last three years, there is plenty to be proud of. While it hasn’t always been easy, Simon said: “I don’t have one single regret, I wouldn’t change my job for the world. I love it.”

Nominating Simon for the AoC Higher Education Student of the Year award, Redcar and Cleveland College’s programme area lead for access, higher education and counselling, Michelle Kelso, said: “I am an extremely proud tutor.”

The AoC Student of the Year Awards recognise the outstanding and innovative practice provided by further education colleges and the achievement of their students, with just four national awards up for grabs.  

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