Full Circle


Education is a human right

I left school with relatively mediocre O level and CSE qualifications. I went to my local FE college to study nursery nursing. Here, I was able to enter the work of work and mix with adults in the work place, a whole new world for me back then. This is such a valuable part of many FE students’ experiences. After a few years of working, I knew that I wanted a career that was more aspirational. At 21 I returned to my local FE College to study an Access course. It was sheer chance that I ended up on that course as back then, I had never heard of these one year courses to help you access higher education, all I knew was about A Levels and that I had never studied them. The Access course was indeed transformational. It opened up new ways of thinking, people from so many different backgrounds and best of all, the idea that someone like me could actually go to University! (No one else in my family had ever been to University). One year later, having studied subjects like literature, sociology and art, I went on to university to study for a BA (Hons) Women’s Studies. I loved it. I was studying a subject I loved and again, new doors, new horizons and new possibilities opened up to me. But if it hadn’t been for my local FE college, where would I be?

On finishing my degree I trained to teach. I have worked in further education for 20 years now. I am an Assistant Principal in a college leading adult and higher education, largely for those who need that second chance as I did. It’s certainly a challenge, not least because we have more demand for adult education courses than we can meet due to the annual reductions in funding.

When you have to turn people away for something as fundamental as getting help with English skills because you have no funding left, you have to question the recent decisions made by policy makers. Education is a human right being denied to many. However, I am very proud to be able to work with those that we can. I am always in awe of our adult students and what they juggle in order to achieve and long may this continue.

Jo Fletcher-Saxon (Assistant Principal in a college leading adult and higher education) inspires with her learning journey