From education to employment

Cardiff and Vale College learners win Agored Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year Awards

Cardiff and Vale College learners Sara Head and Sean Early have won Agored Access to Higher Education (HE) Learner of the Year Awards.

Sara also won the national Keith Fletcher Memorial Award for Access to HE learners, in the Outstanding Commitment to Education category.

CAVC Access to Higher Education courses are designed to provide mature learners with the confidence and skills needed to cope with the academic demands of higher level study. The College  particularly welcome applications from mature learners who have decided on a career change or who are returning to their studies following a break. 

Access to Further Study is an intensive one-year course which builds on existing skills. Learners study GCSE English and Maths, and as part of Agored’s Skills for Further Study Diploma they also study Science, Social Science, Maths, IT and Study Skills. Weekly tutorials are held to explore progression routes and support them through their studies.

Sean Early returned to education after five years in the RAF and studied Access to Bioscience. A highly motivated and enthusiastic student who was willing to support his peers when necessary, he was voted course representative and he achieved distinctions in all of his graded units.

Sean, who won the Agored Award in the Outstanding Academic Achievement category, is now studying Environmental Geoscience at Bristol University.

Cardiff and Vale College Principal Sharon James Evans said:

“Massive congratulations to Sean for winning Agored Cymru’s Access to HE Learner of the Year for Outstanding Academic Achievement.

“From the very beginning, Sean’s commitment to his course really stood out and the quality of his work has been consistently brilliant. Hugely enthusiastic and engaged, he reached an excellent academic level and was a keen participant in extra-curricular activities such as the WorldSkills competition. Well done Sean!”

Sara Head studied Access to Health Science at CAVC.

After retiring from a 20-year career as an athlete and competing in two Paralympic Games, she decided to return to education. Despite being hospitalised with Covid and spending two years in rehabilitation afterwards, Sara was committed to attending her Access classes online.

Always showing a ‘can do’ attitude and helping others through difficult times, Sara was an extremely popular member of her cohort with excellent IT skills. Sara achieved 39 Distinctions and Six Merits on her course and won the Agored Award for Outstanding Commitment to Study category.

All Agored Access to HE Learner of the Year Award winners are entered into the UK-wide Keith Fletcher Memorial Prize Awards for Access learners. Sara also won in the Outstanding Commitment to Study category in these awards.

The Keith Fletcher Awards judge said:

“This student has achieved to a high standard despite some extremely serious health challenges.

“The determination that drove her to turn her disability into something that she could use, through sport, to achieve, was then shown after her near disastrous brush with Covid. Despite this she complete her diploma with good grades. Her achievements will change her life and give her an entirely new career.”

Cardiff and Vale Principal Sharon James-Evans said:

“A huge congratulations to Sara for winning not only Agored’s Access to HE Learner of the Award for Outstanding Commitment to Study but also the UK-wide Keith Fletcher Memorial Award for Outstanding Commitment to Study.

“Sara’s learner journey at CAVC has been a real inspiration to both students and staff alike. She has faced some real challenges along the way, including a life-threatening encounter with Covid, but has shown unfaltering courage, determination and commitment to succeed. We’re all massively proud of her.”

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