The Keith Fletcher Memorial Access to HE Learner Prize 2015

Determined, inspiring, dedicated’- just three of the words used to describe Access Learners at the Keith Fletcher Memorial Access to HE Learner prize .The prize-giving hosted on Thursday 5 March, 2015 at the Palace of Westminster was a splendid opportunity to celebrate the achievement of Access students and to recognise the amazing journey that is made in one year. Nominators of both winners and runners-up spoke passionately of their nominee’s passage through Access and explained why they had chosen them with fervour and warmth. Nic Dakin, MP presented each winner with a framed certificate and a cheque (£800 for each winner and £500 for each runner-up) before congratulating them personally. Nic is an avid supporter of adult education following his previous career as Principal of John Leggott College, Scunthorpe, and believes that the Access to HE pathway provides a vital second chance for those that may have missed out on further education in the past. The prize is in memory of a well-loved colleague, Keith Fletcher who dedicated his career to promoting and endorsing Access to HE, before sadly passing away in Nov 2010. Special thanks to Janet Gardiner and Kingsley Fletcher for their attendance and continued support over the last four years. Julie Farmer - Acting Head of Access, QAA – opened the presentation with a talk outlining the challenges faced by Access students:  “Many of us involved in the management of Access to HE know from our own experience that these students are committed, determined and, very often, courageous. They rise to the challenge of returning to study while frequently also having to work to continue to support themselves and raise a family.  The students who are being awarded prizes here today are outstanding examples of those qualities, and it is entirely fitting that they receive an award that is a memorial to Keith Fletcher, who dedicated his career to the cause of adult education.” The presentations were made as follows: Outstanding Academic Achievement Runner Up: Chris Kassam, College of West Anglia (CAVA) Nominated by: Jim Knowles Jim described Chris as “performing at Distinction level on every assessment on the Access to Medicine Course at the College of West Anglia. He barely made any errors at all and it was always a challenge for us as teachers, either to find a constructive comment for improvement on assessments or to answer very challenging academic questions in lessons, from a student who always endeavoured to develop his learning beyond that of the course”. One of the judges commented: “In terms of award of grades this achievement is outstanding particularly on a demanding Access to Medicine course”. Another went on to say: “His tutor remarked how difficult it was, because of his exceptional ability, to answer his very challenging questions in lessons or to find constructive comments for improvement on assignments. This again demonstrated his ability” Chris is now studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge . Other winners Outstanding Commitment to Study Runner Up: Jamie Maidment, Colleg Gwent When Janet was asked for nominations for the Access award, Jamie’s name cropped up several times as a worthy applicant. “Jamie has been a shining light on the Access course and has turned his life around. He has a particular aptitude for science and has gained a high number of distinctions across the Access course”. She closed by saying “He will be an asset to the nursing profession as much as he has been an asset to the Access beliefs”.   One of the judges commented: This student has made a considerable journey towards the life he wants despite his background. He has also achieved highly academically. The transformation in his life through his determined efforts has already started to take place. An excellent student, who has still achieved throughout very adverse circumstances. Furthermore he is a supportive person of others”. Jamie also won the Agored Access to HE Learner Prize, First Place for Outstanding Commitment to Study and is now studying Mental Health at Cardiff University Outstanding Commitment to Study Winner: Jane Lacey, Barking and Dagenham College Sabeena was openly delighted when we she was informed of Jane’s award. “Jane is one of the most positive, enthusiastic and determined people you could wish to meet and her goal is to qualify as a barrister”. In addition to being a model student, Jane was also elected as course representative, acting as a key point of liaison between her fellow students and tutors. Over and above her role as course representative, Jane became an informal mentor: giving up her own time to support other students to help them overcome their personal or study issues. Jane would come in to the library and work with the students during her free time. Sabeena added: “Despite all she has overcome, and in a way because of it, Jane is determined to be a role model for others, particularly her children. All 3 of her grown up children are in education, or are returning to education”. One of the judges noted “the access course has provided her with the confidence to cope with University, and she hopes to progress to a masters, then PhD and then a doctorate. She is a role model to others including her own family”. Jane is now studying Criminology & Psychology at the University of East London. Outstanding Academic Achievement Winner: Carl Jackson, City College of Brighton and Hove Wendy had hoped that Carl would receive some recognition for his outstanding work, and was overjoyed to hear he had won the LASER Access to HE Learning Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement within his AVA, and was then nominated for the Keith Fletcher Award. When she heard he had won again, she was truly delighted. “It is our belief that Carl deserves some form of recognition for his hard work, determination and those innate talents that have enabled him to succeed within academia.” She goes on to say: “Carl told me that at school he always felt as though he was ‘not academic’, which resulted in low self -esteem and his leaving full time education aged just sixteen to enter the world of paid employment. Having worked for a number of years he decided that he could achieve more, so he researched careers options deciding that a career with development would both enable him to achieve his personal goals as well as make a positive contribution. Carl is an excellent student, and we feel that he has the potential to achieve at the highest level, and that any university will be lucky to have him.”