Meet our students

Meet our learners

Alexandra - Accounting (AAT) Level 3 Diploma


“I work for a Bedford accountancy firm, Thompsons Accounting, and wanted to progress my career but continue to work full-time.  This part-time AAT course fits in well because it’s two evenings a week.”

“Although I work for an accountancy firm, I’m doing an administration job at the moment, so this AAT qualification will help advance my career. I’m planning to go on and complete the Level 4 AAT – that’s my goal.  Once I have the Level 4 qualification it will open up a lot of different opportunities for me. The course has definitely helped me gain a greater understanding of what goes on at work, particularly the financial terminology the accountants use, so it has significantly increased my confidence at work.”

» Find out more about Accounting (AAT) Level 3 Diploma

Anna - Access to Combined Science


I’d always been interested in physiotherapy but when I first came to the UK from Latvia I didn’t feel confident enough to study it at university and chose to read Sports Therapy instead. I got a job working as a porter at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and then progressed on to be a physiotherapy assistant on the stroke unit. After three years I applied to university again to study Physiotherapy, but because I had been out of education for a few years, they suggested I should take a course beforehand to refresh my skills.

Although I didn’t feel I needed it academically, the Access course brought so many extra opportunities, plus the nourishing atmosphere has made me feel I can now strive for a first class degree when I start at the University of Hertfordshire in September.

I really enjoyed writing my final project, which I chose to do on how stroke guidelines compare across different countries and I’m looking forward to taking this further in my final dissertation at university. Once I have graduated I aim to specialise in stroke rehabilitation.

I also enjoyed the microbiology unit as the equipment in the labs at College is really good, and I jumped at the chance to take my English and maths GCSEs for free. My maths tutor even spent extra time helping a few of us prepare for the higher maths paper. All of the tutors here have made me feel as though I can do so much more; their passion really spurs you on to succeed.

Arlene - Access to Midwifery


After 12 years of childminding at home, I turned 40 and wanted my house back to myself! I’d always wanted to be a midwife and this felt like the right time for me to do something about it. A friend recommended the Access courses to me and, to my delight, I found that Bedford College offered a pathway in midwifery.

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into education. It hasn’t been easy financially, but the Advanced Learner Loan is there to cover the course fee and gets written off when you graduate from university. The studying has not been as difficult as I thought it might be; the tutors are excellent and help ease you into the course.

My favourite part of the course is science and the practical sessions in the lab. I’ve always enjoyed it and have studied some physics courses through the Open University over the years.  We have to do about 10 hours extra study at home per week, which is manageable as long as you stay organised and on top of it all.

Once I’ve completed the Access course I’ll be going to the University of Bedfordshire to study midwifery, and it will take three years to become qualified. It’s been an amazing year here at Bedford College. My confidence has gone from zero to absolutely through the roof, so if you’re considering it, just do it! 

Find out more about Access to Midwifery

Ashley - Access to Social Science


I always knew I wanted to be a social worker; it was just a matter of when! I have a caring nature and worked with elderly people for two years. It also runs in the family, as my mum took an Access course 20 years ago to become a nurse.

Starting the Access course marked a return to Bedford College for me, as I had studied Travel & Tourism here after finishing school and went on to work for British Airways at Heathrow. More recently I had been working at a GP surgery, where again I was in this caring environment, and had my son.

I really enjoy the Sociology element of the course, and some of the modules cover social work, which will help me at university, but I think just being around different people and making new friends at College will help in a career where I’ll be mixing with different people every day.  

My biggest fear was coming back into education after such a long time. I didn’t have any expectations but I can honestly say all of my tutors have been lovely and quickly relayed my fears; they’re so supportive and you can ask them anything.

I have a place secured at London Metropolitan University and it will take three years for me to become a qualified social worker. The Access course is the best thing I’ve done and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. It’s good to challenge yourself! 

Find out more about Access to Social Science

Christopher - Carpentry & Joinery Level 1


After 20 years working in sales, I was looking for a change. I thought, if I don’t do it now, I never will. So I enrolled on to the part-time Carpentry & Joinery course and have now set up a business as a handyman.

I already have a good understanding of carpentry and this course focuses on joinery as well, which suits me. I’m a trained engineer by trade, and I completed my engineering apprenticeship here at Bedford College in the early nineties. Although I have the experience, it’s about learning to do things properly. My tutors all have plenty of experience in the real world, and that’s one of the reasons I chose to study here.

I’m fortunate enough to have had the chance to go back to education later on in life and I’m hoping to do my Level 2 and Level 3 in Carpentry & Joinery, as well as some other courses such as Electrical Installation.

I’ve really enjoyed this course – it was a life changing decision and a risk that has paid off. Although I have studied at other colleges, Bedford College is home for me and I would definitely recommend it to others.  

Find out more about Carpentry & Joinery Level 1 

Gavin - Practical Horticulture RHS Level 2 Certificate


“I’m self-employed and work in London as a Personal Trainer but I’ve been in the fitness industry for 18 years and I’m now looking for a change and to do something different.  I also want a more self-sufficient lifestyle so this RHS qualification seemed like a good stepping stone to achieve both of these goals.”

“The reason I chose this RHS qualification is because it’s well respected in the industry and I can keep my options open as I don’t know what area of horticulture I want to specialise in yet.”

“Shuttleworth College is not like other colleges, it’s located in lovely grounds and on this course we have access to a historic walled garden on the 500 acre Shuttleworth Estate, where we can develop our practical skills.  We have everything we need here on site including laboratories and horticulture equipment.”

“Our tutor is great.  He’s very passionate, knows his stuff and is very good at communicating and passing on his knowledge to us.  It’s fantastic having a tutor who you like and who you can see is really interested in his subject and knows what he’s talking about.  It’s so important and makes the course really enjoyable – I’d recommend it to other people interested in developing their gardening skills.”

» Find out more about Practical Horticulture RHS Level 2 Certificate

Connor - Trees & Timber Level 2


When I left school two years ago I went to work for Neil Shadbolt Tree Surgery as an apprentice. I started on this course at College about three months after starting work, and I now study here one day a week.

I chose to get into tree surgery because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. I love being outdoors and have always wanted an outdoor job. There is a lot more to tree surgery than some people think; it’s not just about using a chainsaw, but about the climbing systems and equipment too, plus it’s a growing industry globally.

The qualification I am studying here at College is training me to be a Tree Surgeon so that I can progress in my job. I’d like to work through as many qualifications as I can and the UK qualifications are recognised globally, so this will also give me the opportunity to travel. I’d like to move out to Switzerland to work for a few months once I’m qualified.

My tutors are great; they’re very supportive and help to motivate me. They’ve all worked in industry and so their professional contacts are good for networking.

I’d encourage everyone working in industry to come and study at college; you’re not going to get anywhere without the necessary qualifications, and learning the right way to do things also helps you to stay safe on the job. 

Find out more about Arboriculture & Floristry Courses

Jenna - Access to Animal Management


Before starting this Access course at Shuttleworth College I had been out of education for 10 years. I worked in retail after leaving school and more recently had a cleaning job. Whilst this offered plenty of flexibility while my daughter was young, I wasn’t happy and deep down knew I wanted to get back into education.

I love animals and have always had a dream of opening a cat sanctuary. I looked into Animal Care courses after a colleague recommended Shuttleworth College to me. When I spoke to staff they suggested I’d be a good candidate for the Access course, so here I am!

I took out the Advanced Learner Loan to cover the cost of the course and the College have been fantastic helping with childcare fees and a travel bursary. 

My plan is to go on to an Animal Science degree here next year, which I would never have believed when I started looking at courses. I’m not very academic so the Access course has been a challenge, particularly the assignments and essays. However, the tutors have been fantastic at keeping us on the right track – and they really bring the love of animals alive!  I’ve come to realise that I am more than capable; I’ve just got to keep that self-confidence going inside. 

Shuttleworth College is such an inspirational place and the Animal Unit is fantastic. We get to work with so many different species and you can’t help but take pride in caring for them. 

Find out more about Access to Animal Management

Josh - Plumbing Studies Level 2 Diploma


When I finished school, I started on a course at Bedford College, but after giving it some thought, I decided that Plumbing would be a better option for me. I started on the full-time course and then my tutor helped me to find a job with a local plumbing company.

I work every Friday and am in College from Monday through to Thursday at the Gas & Plumbing Centre in Kempston.

I enjoy the practical work, such as making copper frames, which shows your tutor how accurate you are at measuring and soldering. The tutors are really good and make the theory lessons enjoyable too.

I much prefer the environment at College compared to school. It’s more hands on with less sitting and learning out of a text book.

Once I have finished this course I want to work full-time as a plumber and start my NVQ (work-based qualification) and then eventually take my Gas Safe certificate. I’m looking forward to becoming fully qualified so I can work for myself and be my own boss.  

Find out more about PLumbing Studies Level 2 Diploma

Lisa - Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools CACHE Level 2 Certificate


“I chose this part-time course because I wanted to train to be a Teaching Assistant and as a single parent I needed flexible study options to fit around my family commitments.”

“I was offered a place on the course on the condition that I gained a work placement of at least ten hours a week in a school.  I then had ten weeks of part-time study and then another ten weeks supporting a Year 2 teacher at a local primary school.”

“There’s no doubt that the course has helped me in my day to day life. Without completing this course I would not have got my new job as a Teaching Assistant as I had no previous experience in this area.  The Headteacher was observing a lesson that I was supporting and offered me the job based on the skills I demonstrated in the classroom.  I’ve also learnt a lot about childcare and behaviour issues which not only helps me with my job, but also helps me to deal with my own children in a better way.”

“My tutor was absolutely brilliant and so supportive, she went above and beyond what was required to help me and make sure I had a good experience on the course – in fact I’ve already recommended the College to others.”

» Find out more about Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools CACHE Level 2 Certificate

Mai - General Patisserie & Confectionary Level 2 & Hospitality Management BTEC HND Level 5

Case Study Part Time Mai Catering

I’ve always had a passion for cooking and baking since I was young. Growing up, my mum was a chef in our village and she taught me smells and aromas from different kind of spices, what they look like and their purposes. I’ve learnt a lot from spending time with her.  

I came to the UK from Borneo 17 years ago to continue my study to gain higher qualification. I enjoy learning and over the years I have seen many improvements being made here at Bedford College which have given myself and others the opportunity to study a range of different courses, as there is always help and support available. I work to help pay for my cookery courses because I know that once I am qualified, more career options will be open to me. I’ve completed a number of qualifications here at Bedford College.

My tutors are excellent – I find it easier to learn through practical than theory, even though to accomplish my HND, it requires me to do more coursework.

Within the college, there are plenty of practical sessions including working within the College’s restaurants at different campuses, both cooking and serving. The College has also helped me with my language skills. English is not my first language and throughout the years I feel that it has progressed and improved.

After completing my HND I would like to continue my study at university. If the College offered a Level 6 qualification then I wouldn’t be leaving; I would recommend the College to everyone.

One day I would like to publish a cookery book and eventually would like to work in a prestige hotel. At home I love to cook for family and friends, I’m very lucky that my family give me the support that enables me to accomplish my goals.

» Find out more about General Patisserie & Confectionary Level 2 Certificate
» Find out more about Hospitality Management BTEC HND Level 5

Mick - Teaching in Post-Compulsory Education (Cert Ed/PGCE)

Mick Pinney

“I completed the CertEd as part of my job. Group activities worked well for me as I like being part of a group. They were also great for sharing ideas like ice breakers and quizzes, which I use in my lessons. I love how the tutors let you be creative and choose anything you like and deliver a micro teaching lesson, the feedback was great and tutor feedback was always positive, which made me feel good about myself. Tutors were excellent and always supportive.”

“I have achieved a grade 1 lesson observation and I am currently about to undertake the A1 assessors award. I was asked if I would become the course manager in Brickwork. Wow – what a journey in such a short time. In 2007 I was working on a building site and in 2014 a fully qualified teacher and manager of Brickwork!”

» Find out more about Teaching in Post-Compulsory Education (Cert Ed/PGCE)

Ornat - Leadership for Health & Social Care Level 5


I joined Candour Care Services, a private learning disability care home, as a Support Worker in 2012 after being made redundant from my previous job. I like helping people to help themselves, so it was something I felt I needed to do. My employer gave me the opportunity to complete the Level 3 Health & Social Care course at Bedford College while I was working. It meant a return to education after 20 years, but I was subsequently promoted to Senior Support Worker.

It took a little more persuasion for me to enrol on to the Level 5 qualification. I was very nervous at first to move up to this level of study, but my tutors really believed in me. They made the course very enjoyable and would explain in detail if there was anything I did not understand. The timetable fitted in well with my work commitments and family life.

The course has improved my communication skills, confidence and knowledge of leading a team. I have now been promoted to Lead Care Coordinator, working alongside the Manager and Deputy Manager in making sure the needs of the people who use our service are fully met. My ultimate aim, if I gain enough experience, is to manage a care home.

I loved meeting new people on the course; we helped each other and gained a lot from discussing how our own workplaces function. In fact, three of my colleagues are now studying the Level 5 qualification following my recommendation! 

Find out more about L5 Leadership for Health & Social Care

Paul - Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools Level 3


Teaching was something I had always wanted to do. I had worked in a bank for many years and when I saw an advert in the local paper for a Learning Support Assistant, I got in touch with the school. We talked through my options and I enrolled on to the Level 3 Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools course and got the job.

Within the first few weeks I just knew I was going to love it. I work in a class of 10 autistic boys and it’s challenging, but very rewarding too. I work with them on both an individual and group basis, and also run two after school clubs. It’s all about helping to support them and seeing them improve.

I have a workplace assessor from the College who set me up on the course and my learning is all done online. The course has given me a better understanding of the teaching role and what’s needed as a teaching assistant, as well as an overview of the policies and procedures of the whole school and the theory behind it. After 25 years out of education, it was tough to start with, but once you get going everything becomes easier.

The school is now pushing me to do complete a Level 4 Diploma, which will enable me to cover classes when the teachers are not there. Eventually I would like to teach at primary level. 

Find out more about Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools Level 3

Pauline - Therapeutic Counselling Level 4 Diploma


“I currently design clothing for Formula One and was searching for an alternative career where I could really make a difference and help others. I enrolled on the part-time Counselling Studies Level 3 Certificate at Bedford College and, when that came to an end, the Level 4 Diploma was a natural progression for me. My tutor, Nadine, taught me on Level 3, which really helped when moving up a level, as she understood my capabilities and my commitment to my development as an individual.

All of the tutors are very organised and let us know what we will be covering ahead of the session, so that we can mentally prepare. I went in to something very unfamiliar when I started studying Counselling, but the practical side of this course really helps to contextualise the theory; for instance, we have to do a voluntary placement, personal counselling and supervisions. It is a definite step up from the Level 3 and has a bigger impact on your life; even though I am only in College one day a week, I put in a lot more hours outside of college studying and attending my placement.

The College environment is just what I need. To be in an educational setting surrounded by students engages me in my learning and is one of the main reasons I chose college over distance learning. Access to the Advanced Learner Loan was also an important factor. There is a lot going on in the department as well; we have a guest speaker come in once a term. Overall, my experience has been a very positive one.”

» Find out more about Therapeutic Counselling Level 4 Diploma

Peter - Practical Horticulture RHS Level 3 Certificate; Principles of Plant Growth, Health & Applied Propagation RHS Level 3 Certificate


I chose to study at Shuttleworth College because of the wonderful surroundings and brilliant facilities. It has one of the biggest walled gardens around, and really is a College with a soul to it.

I run my own small gardening business, do some gardening work for Age UK and give talks on horticultural topics to various gardening clubs. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) courses are something I have always wanted to do, as I would like to set up my own plant nursery.

My tutors are very knowledgeable and patient, and they often go beyond the mandatory units to teach us relevant things outside of the curriculum. One thing we have learned about is grafting, which is a very niche skill to have. You can email the tutors whenever you need to ask them something; they are very supportive.

Particular elements of the course that I have enjoyed include; micro-propogation in the laboratory (lab-based plant growing) which has been eye opening, and pruning – the walled garden has so many different and rare plants to learn about. You have everything you need here, all within a lovely, relaxed atmosphere.

I am thinking of doing my Master of Horticulture, M Hort (RHS) through the RHS, but I will need a few more years’ experience before I can start. 

Ruth - Counselling Level 3


I started on the Introduction to Counselling course and worked my way up through Level 2 to Level 3. I work as an Early Years Practitioner in a school, and felt that having counselling skills would complement my work.

The things you learn on the course are relevant for all areas of work and life. For example, at work it has given me an extra dynamic in understanding children’s behaviour and at home, active listening has been a great tool to help with raising my four boys!

I now have the motivation to continue on my journey and have applied for the Level 4 course, which, after two years of study and 100 hours voluntary placement/supervision, would make me a qualified counsellor. I’d eventually like to become a counsellor within an education setting, as I feel there is currently a lack of these services in schools. I feel very strongly about promoting positivity in children’s mental health and well-being.

I have found having peers to work alongside very supportive and encouraging, which is one reason I chose the College over distance learning. The Learning Resources Centre (LRC) on site is great for using the computers, printing work and the staff there also ran a session on how to write a book review, which was really helpful when we were starting out.

From essay writing to career options the support is there to be accessed. The College offers the perfect environment for adults getting back into education. 

Katherine - Access to Computing


I started this Access course two years after leaving sixth form. I’d had some time out and had intended to go back to sixth form, but decided I wanted to go to university and searched online for other options. I found that Access courses can get you to university in just one year if you don’t already have the grades you need.

Coming to Bedford College was a really good decision. I’ve met so many great people and it’s getting me to where I want to be.  I was quite a shy person growing up and found that I could connect with people through computing. I taught myself a lot over the years and when I read something online about computer science from someone who was about to go and study it, something clicked in my mind and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

I love programming and enjoy the maths on the course as well; my dad and grandad are both engineers, so that sort of mind set runs in the family! Another unit I have really enjoyed is Computers in Society, which combines computing with my passion for history. The tutors and other students are all lovely and we have an online group chat to help each other out between lessons.

I’m looking forward to going to the University of Westminster to study Computer Science at the end of the Access course and would love to have a career in either software development or game development. 

Find out more about Access to Computing

Mohammed - Bricklaying (Level 2)


Bricklaying was completely new to me when I started College on the Level 1 Construction course. I was recovering from an illness I’d had back in 2013 and wanted to slowly get back into something.

I chose Brickwork because I have always been fascinated by building work and I get a real sense of satisfaction from building something from scratch. I must say I was a bit hesitant getting back into education and not sure how I would cope, but the younger students here are great and the tutors are so friendly.

I’ve learnt a lot including how to construct brick arches and also had some ‘on the job’ experience painting and decorating in the College.

When I finish the study programme I would like to get a job or try and set up my own small, self-employed company. You shouldn’t give up on your ambitions. There is no set age to stop studying, so you shouldn’t put a limit on yourself. Life is too short, so learn what you can.

Find out more about Brickwork Level 2

Rebecca - Access to Teacher Education


When I left school I started an admin role with the Police, working my way up to research work after four years where I stayed for another eight years. The idea of teaching had always been at the back of my mind and it was working with children as a Beaver Scout Leader that made me decide now was the time to get started.

I contacted the University of Bedfordshire about teaching courses and they directed me to this Access course at Bedford College. The course will enable me to move on to the University’s Primary Education course which will lead to Qualified Teacher Status at the end of the three years.

 I really enjoy the psychology and sociology elements of the course and the different theories we learn. We also study child development, and everyone on the course has undertaken a work placement at a local school. We’re a really supportive group and enjoy working together on joint projects.

I want to make a difference through teaching and my passion is with primary education – most people remember their primary teachers more than their secondary teachers! I’m really glad I started this course at College. I’ve found learning easier this time around, thanks to the support of my tutors, and I now feel fully prepared for university.   

Find out more about Access to Teacher Education

Rita - Science Access to Higher Education Level 3


I work part-time as an agency carer but I’ve always wanted to go to university to study pharmacy, which would enable me to give patients better treatment and make their lives more comfortable.

I really enjoyed chemistry, mathematics and the science practical exercises and conducting experiments were very interesting. For example in biology we checked the catalyst reaction on human tissue from the heart, lungs and kidneys and in chemistry we did experiments which assessed the synthesis of aspirin.

I also think the research work we did is going to be invaluable when I get to university.  Now I know how to research and reference correctly, which is very important at university and not something that is always taught at A-Level.

My tutors have been brilliant, when I decided to apply for a pharmacy course at university, I realised I needed to do chemistry and even though I was a little bit late, they helped me to catch up and complete the extra units that I needed. 

I’ve applied to do pharmacy at the University of Hertfordshire and I have an interview next week, so I hope I can impress them with everything that I’ve learnt on this course!

Find out more about Combined Sciences Access to Higher Education Level 3

Simon - Electrical Installation (Level 2)


I’d been a stay at home dad for several years and was researching my options with regards to becoming a self-employed Electrician. After speaking with a couple of established electrical contractors in Milton Keynes, it became clear that Bedford College was well respected by the trade.

There are two main components to the course; theory and practical. While the course does consist of a significant amount of electrical related maths,  I have found that Bedford College does provide the support needed to master the electrical theory and any maths involved; the tutors here are very experienced and know how to best assist the students to master the theory.

The other main part of the course consists of practical experience in the College's workshop. As someone who not only aims to become a self-employed Electrician, but who also enjoys working with his hands, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to actually practice the electrical installation work. Over the course of the year we have been taught everything from the basics of how to correctly strip and terminate cable through to installing steel conduit and testing our work using test instruments.

Once I've successfully completed Level 2, I can enrol on to the Electrical Installation Level 3 course. Completing this course puts a student in a fantastic position to be employed in the trade as a trainee Electrician in order to get the work experience they need for final assessment to become fully qualified.

Find out more about Electrical Installation Level 2

Samuel - Access to Business


I joined the Army straight from school and worked in the Bomb Disposal Unit, completing three tours of Afghanistan. After five and a half years, I found I wasn’t enjoying it any more. I bought a house and decided it was a good time to ‘jump ship’.  I researched my options and was ideally looking for a course that could get me on to a law degree. This Access to Business course provided a good stepping stone to university and also offered elements of law.

I had been promoted to Corporal before leaving the Army so I was worried about coming to College from such an authoritative role. Would I be treated like an adult or would it be like going back to school? I needn’t have worried. It’s an independent learning environment but you have the support of your tutors who are very friendly.  I’ve really enjoyed the course and it’s certainly not been a case of just turning up and getting it done; it’s worked really well for me and been good preparation for university.

I’ve always been interested in law, particularly criminal law and I have managed to stress these aspects of the Access course in most of the assignments that we do. Once I finish here at College I am going on to the University of Birmingham to study Law and hope to eventually qualify as a barrister. 

Find out more about Access to Business

Tony - Therapeutic Counselling Level 4 Diploma

“After completing the Level 2 and 3 counselling courses, I felt confident that Bedford College was the best possible option to seal my capabilities as a therapeutic counsellor. 

Whilst on the course, the structure of the sessions, alongside the evident experience and subject knowledge of the tutors, made me feel I was becoming an ethical and well-rounded practitioner.  There seemed a super balance of looking theoretically at something and then putting it into practice with a fellow student.  I found this really helped to embed the learning and hone my individual style.

A key part of this course was using our growing skills in an agency setting.  I found this invaluable for identifying personal strengths and weaknesses and also becoming accustomed to the reality of working with real people with real difficulties.  The weekly time set aside by the tutors to discuss our agency experiences created a great sense of support.


Another area I felt was well designed, was the preparation set-aside for assessments.  Preparation by the tutors was extremely thorough (discussion and practice) and neatly weaved into our learning throughout the course.   

Without doubt, the Level 4 Diploma has left me feeling inspired and equipped, in both skill and decision making, to continue in this field.”

» Find out more about Therapeutic Counselling Level 4 Diploma