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Former Access to HE Student wins National Festival of Learning Award

2nd December 2020 Date of publication

Former Access to HE student Brandon Layton (pictured above) was named the National Winner in to Outstanding Individual Learner Award category as part the of the 2020 Festival of Learning for his achievements.

We caught up with him to speak to him about his experience of studying the Access to HE Diploma

Brandon, 20, had been studying at Derwentside College for a few years completing courses at Level 1 and Level 2 in Business Admin and IT. He gained a temporary role in the retail sector which he thoroughly enjoyed but unfortunately was unsuccessful in obtaining full time employment. During his time at Derwentside College Brandon has worked closely with the Careers Advisors and they suggested that he should enrol on the Access to HE Humanities and Social Sciences Diploma.

His initial impressions were good. He felt it was very well organised and, initially, challenging. He was the youngest member of the class and this became a positive aspect as he found it interesting studying with mature students as they shared their previous life experiences. Brandon said, “the teachers were very supportive and made the subject interesting and easy to study. The course also helped me develop social skills like being confident when meeting new people from different backgrounds and ages”.

Brandon managed his studies well even though it became more difficult to focus due to the restrictions imposed by the national lockdown and also by his mother becoming unwell at the same time.

Brandon applied to all 4 universities in the North East and received offers from all them including an extremely positive response from Durham University where Brandon is currently studying International Relations.

Brandon said “Completing the Access to HE Diploma provided me with skills that other students of my age may not have such as referencing and study skills. These really do help you in transitioning to life at University. The course is not only an academic skills builder but provides many transferable and social skills. It has made me more confident, and I now have belief in the possibilities of what I can achieve and learn and an optimism of never giving up ”

We asked Brandon how he feels about winning the award and what the reactions was from his family, he said “My family have fully supported me throughout, especially my Nana who was overjoyed at me winning the award. The hardest part about winning the award was not telling people as my tutor had informed me several months earlier that I had been entered for the award.

On his future plans he said, “I would like to undertake a placement year as part of my International Relations course and would love to work at the United Nations or in politics once I graduate”.

His advice to anyone thinking about enrolling onto the Access to HE Diploma would be “Give it a go, you can only gain skills that you can use in life, you have nothing to loose! If I didn’t have the options that Access to HE gave me, I do not think I would have won the award or progressed to Higher Education”.

To view more on Brandon’s achievement please click the link: https://www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/award-winners/brandon-layton/

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