Category Archives: access to higher education

I Was My Own Worst Enemy

I was just like you. I was filled with self-doubt. I was a glass half-empty rather than a glass half-full kind of person. And yet deep down I knew I was capable of so much more than I dared to let myself believe.
I enjoyed school. I did quite well, I worked relatively hard and always thought I’d go to university someday. But then life happened, as it does. It cast my plans aside and led me down a path I had never imagined I would end up on.

I’m sure you know how the story goes; wrong crowd, led astray, missed opportunities, the usual stuff. I was unemployed for a few years, trying out jobs and never really liking them, trying to go to college but never actually completing the course and just generally banging my head against a brick wall. I didn’t know how I was going to turn my life around, or how I was going to get things back on track. Then I found Fircroft.

I applied and was accepted for the Access to Higher Education Diploma. For the first time in years I felt like I had a plan, a goal, something to strive towards. The college was just what I’d been waiting for all these years. It was hope.

Fircroft is a place that changes lives. It builds you up when life has ground you down and sends you back out into the world a stronger, more confident, more knowledgeable person. Before long I started to feel like me again. But not the old me, a brand new me, me 2.0. I was confident, I had self-belief and I was raring to go. Excited to see where this new road would lead me.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. We can talk ourselves out of doing things which we know may be challenging. We start to think about everything that could go wrong, we focus on the negatives and fail to see the wealth of possibilities that are on the horizon. Fircroft helps you to rise above, to look at yourself from a different perspective and to begin to believe in your own capabilities.

Fast forward 10 years and I’m back at Fircroft, this time as a member of staff. Working to make sure that people like me, people like us, are aware of the fantastic opportunities that the college offers.

This is my journey. It may be similar to yours, it may be completely different, but one thing that we have in common is the desire to transform our lives. I did it and you can too, start your journey today, apply for the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College – dare to believe.

For more information on the Access to HE Diploma at Fircroft College please visit our website.

Or apply now.

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… by Chantelle Maguraushe

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, you can visibly see the thirst for a reprieve on many a student’s face. For some, life at college has been a breeze, but for others, a struggle. As mature students, the return to education has taken some adjustment. The work has undeniably reached a new level of difficulty with the progression from ungraded to graded units. We are being tested, yet prepared for university study.

Since my last post, we have cultivated our intellectual minds, broadened our knowledge and received our grades for several assignments as well as feedback for improvement in future projects. Socially, we went to the Glee Club and had a Christmas party. The opportunity to relax and unwind was greatly appreciated by all the students and attending staff.

Living away from home, meeting new people, or learning something new does not come easy for all and unfortunately, some students have succumbed to these struggles of college life and have left us for other projects. Change is indeed an acquired taste and sometimes the unsuccessful outcome of a task or goal can leave us disheartened and despondent. Even so, there is hope. If we only stop stumbling in the dark and turn on the light, we may just find that path that leads us to our goal. So to those students, I/we wish you good luck and great success in the future.

Aspirations are not always easy to attain and if we keep this in mind, then the struggle will be worth it. With that in mind, I leave you with the following quote:

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” (Napoleon Hill)

To all, warm greetings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

What’s it like being a residential student on the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft?

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Chantelle Maguraushe shares her experiences of studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College.

Fircroft student Chantelle Maguraushe offers a fascinating insight into what it’s like to be a resident student on the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities.

“There’s a time in your life where you’re not quite sure where you are. You think everything’s perfect, but it’s not perfect… Then one day you wake up and you can’t quite picture yourself in the situation you’re in. But the secret is, if you can picture yourself doing it, you can do it.” (Tom DeLonge)

If you’re looking to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities at Fircroft College, then I hope this blog post goes some way in helping you make that decision.

Like anything, the Access Diploma is not without its difficulties, but thankfully there is a great team of staff on hand to help. With our first few assignments due this coming week, it can feel daunting given that we started only three weeks ago. But on a great note, the modules are very interesting.

So far we have been exposed to literature on Feudalism, Socialisation and other sociological theories, as well as literary pieces such as Billy Bragg’s ‘It Says Here’ and Nick Hornby’s ‘Nipple Jesus’ – all fascinating reads. With a class of less than thirty students, we have become quite a close-knit group – a family away from home if you like.

As for college life, there are some residential students as well as non-residential students living off campus. I can mostly speak for the residential students and what I have to say is – it is awesome! Now, I am not just saying this. Class is a mere minute away from the living quarters, there is free WIFI, three meals are provided daily and the living quarters aren’t too shabby. They are spacious with an en-suite bath and toilet. I mean, what more can you ask for?

The grounds are beautifully maintained and there is plenty of benches to sit and just chill, maybe whilst enjoying the view.

I won’t blather on… I will finish by saying, if you’re looking for a unique learning experience unlike that of much larger colleges, then Fircroft College is the place for you.

Here are some opinions of my fellow students on the Access course:

  • Whilst at larger colleges you can get lost in the crowd, here at Fircroft it’s not really a worry and it’s not difficult to get work done. Plus, you can’t be a resident at most colleges! (Alex French)
  • It’s more accommodating at Fircroft and offers more support due to its smaller size. (Clarista Bird)
  • There’s a cosy atmosphere and you’re not likely to slip under the net whilst here. You feel like a part of history. You are not treated differently whether you are a resident or non-resident. (Chantelle Golden)
  • It’s very inclusive, with smaller classes and structured in such a way as to get the best out of its students. (Karen Mowbray)
  • I think Fircroft, due its ethos and smaller size is a much more supportive college. I get a sense of the ‘Fircroft family’ here. (Naomi Ball)
  • Fircroft offers a supportive learning environment. (Nathan Chin)
  • It is warm and welcoming with small study groups/classes that mean staff can really help students with their personal study goals. (Melanie Starkey)

For more information on the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft please take a look at  www.fircroft.ac.uk/access-to-he

10 Reasons to choose Fircroft College for the Access to Higher Education Diploma

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August is the ideal month to take stock of your current situation and plan how to improve your learning and career prospects.

There are thousands of courses out there designed to move you a step nearer to your personal and professional goals.

For some people, this goal is gaining entry to one of the UK’s many prestigious universities.

However, these same people may feel excluded from the system if they were unable to gain GCSEs or A-Levels whilst at school or college.

If you are one of these people then the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities can help you gain university entrance – even if you don’t have the conventional GCSE or A-Level requirements*.

Here’s 10 reasons to consider Fircroft College to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities:

1) High success rates – year-on-year at least 10% above the national average 

2) Fircroft is small, friendly and very supportive with a close community of like-minded people – read about our learner experience

3) Regular access to a progress coach to guide you through the course and your time at the college

4) Residential option to immerse yourself in your studies and make life-long friends (plus free meals and accommodation)!

5) Modern teaching, ICT and classroom facilities with free WIFI 

6) 24-hour comprehensive library with access to library facilities at nearby University of Birmingham

7) Vibrant social science with trips, activities and events organised throughout the year

8) All learners receive help with living costs

9) The college is set in six acres of beautiful gardens of a former Cadbury home

10) We are just 15 minutes away from the attractions of central Birmingham

*The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a Level 3 qualification and therefore we require applicants to be able to work at Level 2 in English and Level 1 in Maths.

For more reasons to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences & Humanities at Fircroft College, please go here or call one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.

 

Record numbers of Access students are going to university – could you be next?

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A record number of Access to HE learners made it into higher education in 2015, with an impressive 10% gaining entry to prestigious Russell Group universities.

According to a recent TES article, 25,480 students took an Access to Higher Education course and successfully entered higher education in 2014-15 – an increase of 10 percent from the previous year.

These encouraging statistics demonstrate how valuable Access courses are for people without qualifications, who want to enter undergraduate study.

Here at Fircroft College, we offer the hugely popular Access to Higher Education Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities and have a pass rate of over 10% above the national average.

The course offers a diverse range of subjects including History, Literature, Sociology and Psychology and provides a firm foundation for university entrance in several subjects.

Here’s just a few of the benefits of studying the Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities at Fircroft College:

  • Excellent one-to-one support including a progress coach
  • Modern teaching facilities, comprehensive ICT and a 24-hour library
  • College set in six acres of beautiful gardens
  • Residential and non-residential places available
  • Financial support and help with childcare available
  • Free meals and help with living costs

Every year, learners from all backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities study the Access Diploma in Social Sciences and Humanities and progress to university – including Russell Group institutions.

Sometimes, people can feel they are beyond help socially and in education terms. Nothing could be further from the truth when you read some of the inspiring stories from our past learners – many of whom came from very challenging backgrounds and went on to succeed at university and subsequent careers.

For more information on how the Access to Higher Education Diploma could change your life please click here.

How the Access to Higher Education Diploma can transform lives and career prospects

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The Access to Higher Education Diploma is much more than a stepping stone to university.

For many people, it’s a second chance at education and a second chance at life.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed to help people academically and socially while providing a widely-recognised qualification for university entrance. University is still regarded as a very worthwhile choice, academically and financially.

A recent report suggests that graduates can earn up to £12,000 a year more than non-graduates, that’s the equivalent of more than £500,000 over an average working life*.

At a personal level, there are many examples of how the Access Diploma has transformed peoples’ lives.

One such example is Mark Riley.

Before enrolling onto the Access Diploma at Fircroft College, Mark had spent most of the previous 8 years in prison. He started using drugs and alcohol aged 11 and left school with no qualifications. He was a self-confessed ‘latchkey kid with only bad role models in his life.

Casual jobs came and went and Mark started leading a more chaotic lifestyle, sleeping at friends’ houses and taking more drugs. He was sliding down a slippery slope.

The tipping point came in 2012, when Mark considered suicide whilst in prison, but fortunately sought help from a support service which helped him end his drug habit.

After leaving prison and moving into supported housing, Mark heard about the Access Diploma from a friend who recommended he speak to Fircroft. This was the beginning of a new life for Mark.

“Starting the Access Diploma at Fircroft changed everything. It gave me self-belief, confidence and a sense of self-worth I’d never had before. It opened my eyes. I want other people who’ve been in my situation to know that it is possible to change”.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I remember getting my first essay handed back to me after not being in a classroom for 20 years. I got a distinction. I’ve been offered a place at Lincoln Bishop Grosseteste University to do health and social care. I want to be a support worker and help people who’ve been in my situation. I’ve had so much support from other people, especially the tutors at Fircroft, It’s my turn to give something back.”

Mark won the Open College Network 2015 Access to Higher Education Learner Award given to ‘extraordinary individuals who are undertaking or have had inspirational learning journeys helping them to transform their lives.’

There are many others like Mark who’ve transformed their lives by studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College. If you didn’t succeed at education first time around and would like another chance**, please visit this link fircroft.ac.uk/access-to-he or contact our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.

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* Statistic taken from a report compiled by Adzuna who analysed 1,000,000 vacancies in June 2015 and concluded there is a widening pay gap between graduates and non-graduates, although overall the opportunities are becoming better for both.

** We strongly recommend that applicants for the Access to Higher Education Diploma undertake at least some of the Skills for Further Study programme. The programme specifically aims to develop the range of skills you’ll be expected to use on the Access course.

How you can oppose funding cuts and help secure Fircroft’s future.

 

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Fircroft is facing proposed funding cuts of 25-40% which threatens its ability to help disadvantaged learners in the future.

In 1909 George Cadbury Jr. founded Fircroft College of Adult Education and established an institution that would transform the lives of thousands of people over the next 100 years.

The college was founded with a firm social justice mission, transforming the lives of thousands of disadvantaged and socially excluded adults across the UK.

Many of Fircroft’s learners have missed out on conventional education due to challenging personal and family circumstances – often through no fault of their own.

The college offers a wide range of courses and training from basic English and Maths right up to the Access to Higher Education Diploma which prepares learners for University entrance.

The educational offering is only part of what makes Fircroft such a valuable asset to disadvantaged people and society as a whole.

Its residential facility enables learners to immerse themselves in a positive learning and social environment which helps develop inter-personal skills, friendships and trust.

Despite the valuable and essential nature of Fircroft’s work, it’s facing potentially devastating cuts of 25-40% in funding.

These cuts would make it very difficult for the college to continue delivering education to some of the most vulnerable in society.

In 2014, Fircroft was invited to a Parliamentary reception to celebrate the contribution that ‘Specially Designated Institutions’ make to adult education.

The reception was attended by Baroness Gillian Shepherd, Labour peer Baroness Janet Whitaker and Skills Minister Nick Boles who said:

“These (Specially Designated Institutions) organisations deliver learning that has profound, life-changing impacts on the lives of individuals, families and communities, particularly those who are disadvantaged.”

There are hundreds of examples of people whose lives have been transformed by Fircroft College. Often, these learners go back into the community to help benefit the lives of many others.

One such example is Rob, who came from a background of drug and alcohol dependency as well as spells of living on the streets. After a number of courses at Fircroft, Rob progressed to university and subsequently gained a Masters. He’s now a professional counsellor helping people overcome problems like he experienced. He says of his time at Fircroft:

“The support I received was incredible. Fircroft taught me how to embrace education.”

If you think organisations like Fircroft should be sufficiently funded so that they can continue to help disadvantaged people, please take a few seconds to sign this petition.

If you’re a current or former Fircroft learner, there are additional ways you can support our campaign by visiting this page.

Thank you for reading and please share via social media.

How to prepare for the Access to Higher Education Diploma

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‘Skills for Further Study’ courses offer the ideal platform to progress to the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Life, work and study skills are something we all need to get on in life.

For some people, these skills are developed at an early age, through school and the conventional education system. For others, acquiring these skills is not so straightforward for a variety of reasons.

Where this is the case, many people approach their local adult education college to ‘catch-up’ on some of their missed education.

Most adult education colleges offer courses from entry-level stage, right through to pre-degree level, such as the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

To qualify for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, many students opt to study Level 2 courses such as those offered by the Skills for Further Study programme at Fircroft College of Adult Education.

Skills for Further Study courses provide you with the skills and knowledge required for the Access Diploma. They use a variety of learning materials relevant to each subject, making the experience interactive and enjoyable.

The subjects you can study include:

– Speaking and listening skills

– Introduction to Literature

– Introduction to History

– Introduction to Social Science

– Essay writing skills 

Once you have successfully completed some or all of the Skills for Further Study courses, you should be much better prepared to study the Access to Higher Education Diploma.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, we have many examples of students who have worked their way up from entry-level courses to the Access Diploma and then on to university.

One inspiring example is Shafiq Ur-Rehman. Shafiq spent a long period of time in unfulfilling jobs and decided to undertake a series of Level 1 and 2 courses at Fircroft to improve his career prospects.

He then took the next step and successfully completed the Access Diploma at Fircroft as a residential student. This enabled Shafiq to progress to undergraduate study where he studied Law at the University of Gloucestershire. You can read more about Shafiq’s inspiring story and many others like his here.

Fircroft welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds who want to improve their knowledge and skills for learning and employment.

To find out more about how we can help you develop your skills in a supportive environment and prepare you for the Access to Higher Education Diploma, please contact us on 0121 472 0116 or visit this page.

Access to Higher Education Diploma – making the journey to University affordable and fun!

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People of all age groups and backgrounds study the Access to Higher Education Diploma at Fircroft College.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma provides an affordable, alternative route to university for people without formal qualifications.

Many would-be students think that the only way into university is via A-Levels, or vocational equivalents such as BTEC and NVQ.

Other people rule out university because they think they lack the academic ability, social skills or may feel they’re too old.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma banishes these myths, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to study a nationally recognised pre-university qualification.

Each year at Fircroft, the access course brings together a wonderfully diverse group of people from across the UK. Every student has a unique story to tell, from those who’ve overcome personal challenges to older people who want to keep learning throughout retirement.

Studying the access diploma costs less than you may think, as there’s generally more financial assistance available than traditional pre-university qualifications.

Tuition fees are free if you’re aged between 19 and 23 and don’t have a full BTEC or NVQ Level 3 qualification. You may also be eligible for a living allowance, childcare provision and travel costs.

Other financial benefits include:

– All students receive help with living costs regardless of age.

– Residential students receive free meals and an additional living allowance.

– Non-residential students receive a free lunch and help towards childcare costs.

For full details of financial assistance available, please take a look at the Fircroft website.

Apart from a fulfilling learning experience, all students enjoy a varied range of social, leisure and sporting activities at Fircroft. These extra-curricular activities complement the learning experience, by helping students to unwind, get to know each other and reflect on the day’s study.

At the end of the Access course, you’ll have earned a qualification recognised by all UK universities, including the prestigious ‘red-brick’ institutions.

In less than 9 months, the Access to Higher Education Diploma can transform your education and career prospects by preparing you for undergraduate study and beyond.

To learn more about how our Access to Higher Education Diploma can help you gain a university place, please contact one of our friendly team on 0121 472 0116 or visit the access section of our website.

 

 

Adult Education – the ideal way to boost your career prospects in 2015.

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Fircroft students come from a variety of different backgrounds to progress their learning and skill-sets.

January is the ideal time to assess your current life situation and plan out where you want to be in 12 months.

However, it’s very easy to set a raft of ambitious goals in January, but by February, realise they were too unrealistic or impractical to achieve!

We’ve all been there…

One of the most beneficial goals you can set in January (or at any other time) is to improve your knowledge and skill-set for the workplace, or for further learning.

This can be particularly valuable for people who, for a variety of reasons, weren’t able to achieve their goals in education first time around.

At Fircroft College of Adult Education, our 2-3 day short courses are designed for people who want to broaden their knowledge and skills for work, or further study.

Some of our adult education courses are free of charge and students do not need any previous qualifications to study subjects that include:

–          Gateway to Learning – the ideal starting point for adults     returning to education. A chance to plan your learning path with a fully-trained advisor.

–          English and Maths – practical levels of English and Maths required for the workplace.

–          ICT – basic computer skills including word processing, internet, email and spreadsheets.

–          Preparing for work – giving you the advice, knowledge and skills to help climb up the career ladder.

–          Skills for further study – helping you to develop your learning skills to a higher level.

–          Professional Qualifications – including ILM Award in Leadership & Management and the Award in Education and Training

Many of our students enrol without previous qualifications and are understandably anxious about their new learning experience. However, anxieties are soon lifted by our friendly and supportive learning environment and students soon realise that everyone is in the same boat.

We also have the added advantage of being a residential college, offering all of our students a private room with en-suite for the duration of their 2 or 3 day course. You also get some stunning views of our grounds and serene surroundings!

Fircroft has many success stories, where students have overcome adversity in their life by choosing to study one or more of our short courses. Many of our students use the short course route to gain entry to the Access to Higher Education Diploma which has led some of our alumni onto red brick universities.

Read more about our student success stories.

We have short courses starting throughout 2015 – you can find out more on our website by calling our friendly team on 0121 472 0116.