Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group


D, Weston College with HMP Portland

My Life with Education

My name is D. I’m twenty-six years old. I have four children. I live in Bristol with my nan and dad and I have a beautiful girlfriend.

When I was at school I hated it! I just found school boring. I was just not interested. I just couldn’t wait to leave! I did stay at school to finish my GCSEs but had quite poor results. They were either poor or I failed them! At the age of sixteen, when I left school, I joined the army. From the first day of joining I felt like I belonged. It was my passion! To top it all off, I didn’t need any qualifications to join. I just needed to be fit. I loved it when I was in the army, loved the fitness, the chance to explore, that you always have someone looking out for you and the chance to defend my country.

I joined the army in 2005. After three tours of Iraq, I started my tours of Afghanistan. On my sixth tour of Afghanistan (2009), I was captured as a prisoner of war. I was captured for fifty eight days before we escaped. After this, I was taken off active duty because I was suffering with post traumatic stress disorder. I was still in the army though as a Recruitment Officer in Bristol. As a Recruitment Officer, it was my job to go around to year assemblies to inspire the young adults to join the army when they finish school. After doing this for three years, I received an honourable discharge from the army.

In 2013 I ended up stealing petrol as I couldn’t afford to keep taking my disabled son to hospital, which was a two hundred mile round trip every day. As a consequence, I ended up coming to prison!!! After being in prison for six months, I decided that when I was released from prison, I wanted to go to college to study auto electrics. As education was free while I was in prison and I had time on my hands, I decided to take level 2 in maths and English, as well as lots of level 2 courses in other subjects, so I could start on level 2 in auto electrics instead of starting on level 1. When I started doing education again I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.

When I decided to start education again, I found I had to overcome some things. I was at a lower level than what I thought I was and what I needed. I had to study harder than everyone in my class. I had to learn more than everyone but I only had the same time as everyone else. I needed to be highly motivated! I did have some blocks to overcome as well, like dyslexia. I found it hard to read anything that wasn’t on a blue background. It was hard to complete work on time. I really had to work hard! The way I overcame my blocks was PURE DETERMINATION. I was determined to pass level 2 maths and English, so I got my head down and studied.

I’m now an English peer mentor. I help students who are in a similar situation as I was in with their English studies. I help them to learn and be ready for their exams. It’s a trusted position as I help the teacher with administration forms and I also do important administration work. I honestly believe education has changed my life. It has given me things to work towards and new goals in life. When I’m released from prison, it’s going to give me the chance to start on level 2 auto electrics instead of level 1. It has also given me the confidence to help my children with their homework, instead of looking for an excuse not to!

All I can say to anyone who feels lost or who is not sure what to do with their lives, is to think about education. It can open doors, give you confidence, and you’re never too old to learn. It also might save your life like it did mine. I am now twenty-six years old. I used to hate education but now I very much enjoy it. After my time in the army, I thought my life was over. To be honest, with the help of education, I now realise my life is just starting over!

Weston College with HMP Services

Weston College deliver learning and skills to thousands of offenders in prisons across the South West, and immigration centres. The teams focus on providing outstanding delivery to learners, to help them with their learning and raising aspirations whilst also ensuring that the education provided meets the needs of the learners and employers.


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