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"All Adult Learners are Amazing"

Now in its sixth year, the Keith Fletcher Memorial Access to HE student prize continues to acknowledge exceptional learners the length and breadth of England and Wales and this year was no exception when Nic Dakin, MP, once again kindly hosted the prize presentation event in Westminster on Monday 27 March 2017.

David Gittins, CEO of Laser Learning Awards opened proceedings and set the scene for the awards, noting how friends and colleagues of Keith Fletcher wanted to honour his memory and dedication to Access to HE and how they have been collaborating to continue this each year since.

Access students were nominated in two prize categories, Academic Achievement and Outstanding Commitment to Study, which were scrutinised by a panel of nominated judges. Their nominators introduced each winner, talking about their journey through Access and why they had decided to nominate them.  Each winner received a cheque for £750 and runners-up £350 each.


Outstanding Academic Achievement

Runner-up: Richard Lambeth, Newcastle City Learning, One Awards
Nominated by: Debbie Griffiths

Debbie said Richard had been on a long journey – not only a learning journey but his physical journey into college each day would have put many off. Richard displayed outstanding skills and commitment to the course in particular with regard to his research skills. Debbie said her and her colleagues at Newcastle City Learning were proud to be a part of Richard’s learning journey.

 Pic: Richard Lambeth with nominator Debbie Griffiths and AVA representative Jennie Lawson

Winner: Ben Hide, Boston College, Aim Awards
Nominated by:  Rachel Hunn

Rachel started by saying every Access learner is amazing in their own way but Ben was exceptional. He had been a late enrolment on the course and despite his laid back demeanour he was extremely competitive and worked hard to be a high achiever on the course. Rachel praised the quality of his work saying, “You could put a cover on his assignments and sell them as a text book!” 

Pic: Ben Hide  with nominator Rachel Hunn



Outstanding Commitment to Study

Runner-up: Lauretta Hughes, Cardiff & Vale College, Agored Cymru
Nominated by: Lisa Bowditch

Lisa said she had jumped for joy at the opportunity to say a few words about Lauretta. Lauretta left school believing she could not achieve yet from the start she made a huge impact on staff with her determination and commitment. She is highly motivated and focused on her future and study despite a large number of external challenges and is always ready to help fellow students.

 Pic: LaurettaHughes  receives her prize from Nic Dakin, MP


Winner: Layla Graham, John Leggott College, CAVA
Nominated by:  Vanessa Campbell

Vanessa wanted everyone to know that Layla was exceptional and the teaching team are immensely proud of her. Layla embodies the core principles of second chance learning and achievement and had been awe-inspiring – juggling her commitments whilst consistently achieving at a high level. Continuing her success Layla is an ambassador for both the college and her AVA, CAVA. 

Pic: Layla Graham with nominator Vanessa Campbell and Nic Dakin, MP


Each of the prize recipients thanked the staff at their colleges for the support throughout their learning journeys, with Richard Lambeth remarking, “The teaching on the course was never about passing a test … it was about preparing us all to go to university and I feel I have started a step ahead.” Layla Graham spoke movingly about her experience, saying, “Access gave me a feeling of success and confidence. It is about the other things it gives you beside the knowledge needed to study a degree.”

Nominations for the Keith Fletcher Access to HE Student Prizes for 2016-17 are now open, for further details contact your Access Validating Agency.


The following were the AVA nominated judges of this year’s Keith Fletcher Memorial Access to HE Learner Prize:

Teresa Flowers, Access and Vocational Manager, Widening Participation Team, The University of Nottingham

Dr John Graystone, Executive Chair of the Board, Agored Cymru, former Chief Executive of Colleges Wales and interim Director at NIACE Cymru

Lesley Griffin, Assistant Director of Marketing and Recruitment, University of Sunderland

Penny MacKay, Senior Quality Assurance Manager for Access to HE, Ascentis

Dr John McCann, recently-retired Assistant Principal at Hills Road Sixth Form College, an experienced external moderator and former member of the CAVA Council.

Paul Phillips, Board Member and Chair of LASER Access Quality & Development Committee, former Head of Admissions and UK Recruitment, Royal Holloway University of London

Yvonne Savage, Independent Consultant, working with Gateway Qualifications

Karl Stringer, Head of Access and Quality, Open College Network West Midlands


The Keith Fletcher Memorial National Access Prize for 2015-16 was supported by:

Agored Cymru

AIM Awards


Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA)


Gateway Qualifications

Laser Learning Awards

OCN London

Open College Network West Midlands

One Awards

Open Awards




New Edition of ’Access Matters’ - the newsletter from LASER is available

Please see our Newsletters and Bulletins page to download a copy.

Key issues items include:

  • Access Recruitment to colleges down for 2016-17 compared to 2015-16

  • Degree Apprenticeships in Nursing & Healthcare - impact on Access?
  • New UCAS Tariff and Access Diplomas

Study shows how well Access to HE supports progression

A number of LASER centres and staff attended OCN London’s Accses to HE Conference on 12 October and one of the presenters was Hugh Joslin who highlighted the amazing success of the FE sector in general, and Access Diplomas in particular, in supporting progression on to varous forms of higher education.

Hugh (who is based in Kent and has been a longtime supporter of LASER in our various incarnations over the years) was part of a project set up to track the progression over time of students entering the FE sector and then progressing on to higher levels of learning. An innovative use of matching various datasets allowed the project to track learners entering FE, the courses they then pursued and their subsequent destinations. This ’longitudinal’ approach not only highlights the success of Access students going to university at the end of their Access courses but also shows that this same student cohort continued to progress into HE in subsequent years (see page 13 of the presentation).

For further statistics underlining the effectivness of Access provision download the presentation below by clicking here.

The full reports of the project can be downloaded from here







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