Aiden wins top prize as he grabs a second chance at education

A mature student who left formal education at the age of 10 and had no qualifications is heading for university with the aim of becoming a teacher.

The remarkable transformation in Aiden Bank-Connell’s life was achieved with the help of Coleg Harlech, the college that specialises in giving people a second chance at education.

Aiden’s spectacular success was underlined by a powerful and thoughtful essay that was of such high quality that it won him a top award.

Aiden, 32,from Bethesda, has just completed the one-year residential social science course at Coleg Harlech.

At the college’s annual awards day ceremony, he was presented with  the coveted Thomas Jones Award for being the best student in his group.

The essay which prompted the glittering prize was on the theme The Value of Life, which received an almost unprecedented mark of 85 per cent.

Aiden’s proud tutors say this is exceptionally high and has rarely been achieved on the course.

The essay dealt with the emotive yet currently hotly  topical issue of euthanasia – the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit.

Aiden, who is originally from Liverpool and has lived in North Wales for the past 16 years, said: “I left school at the age of 10 to be educated at home by my parents, therefore I never got any qualifications.

“I didn’t have a very easy adolescence and moved from job to job when it was time for me to start work, such as spending some time on the staff of a holiday camp.

“I was actually unemployed for a lot of the time, so when I was offered a place on the social sciences course at Coleg Harlech I saw it as a great opportunity for me to prepare for a proper career, hopefully in teaching.”

He added: “I now have a place at Edinburgh University to study for an MA in philosophy and that will equip me for the future.

“I lean towards teaching as a career, or possibly something in the civil service – I don’t quite know what it will be yet.

“What I do know is that Coleg Harlech is a lovely learning environment.

“The tutors on the social sciences course have been excellent and have helped me to hone up on the skills I already have.

“They certainly put the pressure on during the course but it was never going to be a walk in the park.

“I’d say the past year has been a very worthwhile experience for me.

“I can certainly recommend it to other people, especially those who want to move forward from the situation they are currently in.

“The essay I wrote for my course project was based on a discussion around the value of life.

“My conclusion was that while the value of life is important an over-reliance on it as a statement of fact stops people leading the life they want.”

Aiden’s tutor on the social sciences course, Sian Court, said: “He has consistently provided some high quality work demonstrating a skill in writing analytically.

“His essay for the module on medical ethics was of a particularly high standard and demonstrated a high level of knowledge and an ability to apply comprehension of theory, analyse and evaluate research.

“His work received a mark of 85 per cent, which for an essay is exceptionally high and is rarely achieved.

“In fact, in my four or five years of teaching at Coleg Harlech I have only given one such mark before, about two years ago.

“Aiden is now going to university where we have faith he will continue to provide work of a high quality.”

Coleg Harlech Principal Trefor Fȏn Owen was delighted the college had been able to help Aiden achieve his educational ambitions.

He said: “Aiden’s fantastic success is a shining example of what can be achieved and we wish him all the very  best for the future.”

Coleg Harlech WEA are currently accepting applications for September. For more information go to the website or ring Coleg Harlech on 01766 781900.

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