1. What route did you take after school?
After completing my studies at Hanley Castle, I undertook a twelve-month volunteering placement in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, working with vulnerable adolescents living and working on the streets. I worked closely with these boys, acting as a role model for them, delivering practical workshops on a wide range of practical topics - how to present oneself in a formal situation, counting money and hygiene, to name a few.
Currently, I am studying Hispanic Studies and History at the university of Nottingham.
Hanley helped me during my time overseas by giving me a solid framework of fundamental skills essential to living and working overseas. Resilience, communication/ collaboration and awareness proved particularly vital to me and I could take full advantage of the opportunities thrown my way due to my confidence in using these competencies in which I gained from my studies at Hanley. My studies in English Literature at Hanley were essential to living in the Spanish speaking Dominican Republic (as contrary as that may sound!) At Hanley, I learned various linguistic techniques and devices which I could apply whilst learning a foreign language and my interest in and the cultural side of literature sparked a passion for both Spanish and Portuguese language and culture, leading me to undertake studies in these areas at university.
1. What route did you take after school?
Studying architecture (BSc – RIBA Part 1) at the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University.
On completing my Part 1, I intend to complete my Stage 1 practical experience year where I will gain experience under the supervision of an architect in a firm. Afterwards, I will embark on the MArch programme for a year where architectural knowledge is specialised and enhanced for more complex projects. These two years form RIBA Part 2.
Beyond this I intend to complete the Stage 2 practical experience course for two further years where I will work under supervision at an architectural firm. Whilst working, I will undertake RIBA Part 3, which covers aspects of law and management in preparation for the final professional examinations.
On completion of my seven-year architecture course, I will be registered as a qualified architect with the ARB and become a chartered member of the RIBA.
2. What are you doing now?
I have finished the 1st year of the undergraduate course. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the perfect course for me. It combines skills that I am competent in, given that architecture is both an art and a science. The course provides a fantastic blend of creativity, from drawing to modelling, together with the technical rigour required in real world architecture.
In just under a year I can see the tremendous development curve over the course of several design projects, technical research and the study of previous masters and current “starchitects”.
I am in contact with companies where I had previous work experiences and other practitioners, such as Nick Carroll Architects in Worcester (who featured in Grand Designs 2017 where he designed a modernist curvilinear house in Malvern). I strongly advise keeping in touch with contacts as they can be invaluable for future references or opportunities.
I will also undertake a work experience placement at the prize-winning Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners firm (who have designed buildings such as the Eden Project and Leicester Space Centre) to further develop practical skills in preparation for my 2nd year.
3. How did Hanley help?
Hanley has played a central role in my pathway to becoming an architect. Many architecture schools required an art qualification. I had not taken art at GCSE or A-Level yet the Hanley staff gave invaluable support in helping me along my unusual pathway to architecture. I received both advice and resources from the art department which aided my portfolio and EPQ. This propelled my application in Sixth Form successfully to university. Tutor support in Sixth Form could not have been more helpful in choosing the right options and crafting a way forward despite lacking an art qualification.
Furthermore, the advice to take an architecture relevant EPQ proved invaluable in furthering my understanding of architecture and developing the necessary skills I would later need. It proved a really helpful qualification. I would advise anyone in Sixth Form to take an EPQ relevant to their subject matter as it can prepare you for university-style assignments.
Hanley provided many opportunities for travel that widened my horizons culturally and architecturally. The ski trip in 2014, the World War One trip in 2014 the China cultural visit in 2015 and the Berlin trip in 2017 all gave a flavour of different cultures, experience and architecture that I shall not forget.
Another great attribute of Hanley’s help was the encouragement and flexibility of work experience – this was a turning point for my choice of architecture (unusually early for my age) after doing Year 10 work experience week at a firm in Worcester – which solidified my ambition to become an architect. Additionally I was able to get in touch with further contacts through Hanley that led to more work experiences and confirmation that I made the right choice.
It was bold choosing architecture, despite the odds, yet I chose to begin with the end in mind. The key for choosing any pathway in Hanley and beyond is to ask yourself, as I did repeatedly, is this subject/career something that truly excites and interests you? Is it something that you would do anything to be able to do? If that’s the case then you’ve made the right choice and you should pursue it as passionately and persistently as you can.
My Experience at University:
University is the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life so far, at times it can be daunting, but it has exceeded my expectations and I don’t want it to stop. University gives me so much freedom and a new challenge in my life with fending for myself for the first time ever. Moving away from the countryside to living in Manchester has been a massive shock but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Manchester has it all it’s the upcoming London with the nightlife, Media City (home to ITV and BBC), major sport venues, theatres, and the lifestyle etc.
I’m studying Theatre and Performance Practice at School of Arts and Media: Salford University in Manchester. The lectures/tutors treat you like adults but most importantly like actors and creators. Everyone on my course is extremely friendly and most importantly have the same interests as me. All the performances I’ve done have been highly professional with directors varying from groups to solo pieces. It’s all about experimenting with creativity and learning various techniques and styles to train us to become professional actors.
The first year is challenging because you don’t always study the things you want to, but the majority of it is enjoyable. The first year is all about getting everyone on the same level and making sure you have the foundation to further into the course. The second year will be the best year as I get to pick the modules I want to do for example, Presenting, Physical Theatre, Acting for Camera, Intro to Scriptwriting etc. For the third year, you get to create your own project work and practical research or a dissertation.
My lecturers are still active in the creative industry such as being in Peaky Blinders, which is helpful as they know what the brutality of working in the industry is like. Famous Alumni of the University include: Peter Kay (first gig at Pint Pot which is still a common pub for students to go too), Maxine Peak, Robert Powell and Emma Atkins.
I’m living in student accommodation but its off campus (only a 10-minute walk to Uni) and I’m sharing a flat with two other people, so I have my own bedroom but share the bathroom and kitchen facilities. To be honest I would highly recommend living off campus as it gives you more independence and you’re not at the Uni 24/7. The staff and security are really helpful, and they put on social events in our accommodation varying from food related events to sporting activities. The only problem is that the fire alarm goes off continuously between 6-9pm as students are attempting to cook.
I’m part of the Music Team for Shock Radio, which is Manchester’s biggest student station that is run entirely by students. As part of the Music Team I get to present the charts, go to gigs and produce gig reviews, album reviews, and interview upcoming artists. One of the main perks is that I don’t just get free gig tickets and discount at festivals but get to use high tech equipment and learn how to edit tracks. https://www.shockradio.co.uk/music. I’m part of a Physical Theatre Company (theatre that focuses purely on movement) called Platonic which centres upon relationships and the problems and issues currently in society. Its student led, and everyone can create and contribute in the work. I’ve had workshops with the famous playwright Jim Cartwright who is an associate for the university and does a myriad of talks. I’ve met Jane Horrocks at a Q and A that focused on her experiences within the industry, which was put on by the university. Media City is part of the university which consists of BBC Studios, Channel 4 and ITV. I’ve have been lucky enough through the University to get free tickets to see Voice Kids UK which will be on air in June. Also I have been on the BBC tour and have seen the Blue Peter Studio, Breakfast and BBC Radio.
Having the independence and freedom.
Meeting loads of different people from numerous backgrounds.
Discovering Freshers (nightlife in Manchester is NOTHING compared to Worcester).
Joining societies, I have an interest for.
The atmosphere and lifestyle (I prefer living in a city than a small town in the countryside).
Living with people your own age.
The facilities at the University
Exploring a new city.
Most importantly studying something that I want to do!
Not having home cooked meals (which somehow taste better when you go back home).
Budgeting (I ask myself do I really need that bar of chocolate or pint as it all adds up).
The weather in the North is hideous (first thing I bought with my student loan was an umbrella).
Useful Tips (What I have learnt so far):
Pace yourself at Freshers.
Learn how to budget. Have a notepad to record your expenses each week with a target of how much you can spend per week and a maximum you can spend.
Ask the bar what the cheapest drink is for example at the Student Union Bar (SU) a pint of Carlsberg is £2.50.
You’ll make friends no matter what! You are all in the same position.
Do as much as you can with extra circular (societies) as it’s a great way of meeting new people and can boast your CV.
Learn how to cook the basics. The fire alarms are very sensitive! (Pasta and Pot Noodles are essential)
Get yourself a whiteboard so you can write a to do list and your deadlines.
Have your student ID on you constantly as a lot of places do discount.
Figure out the washing machine. Look at the labels in your clothes as if you don’t, they could shrink.
Know your limit on a night out.
Be careful when you go out make sure you are not walking back by yourself if in doubt get a taxi (download Uber app).
Be nice to your family as they’ll give you food parcels.
Ask for help - the university are there to provide guidance.
Overall University is the better than I expected its more than I could have asked for, I’m having the best time of my life.
We are delighted to hear from former Lechmere Medal winner Abi Senior after her first term at university:
I am studying sport science and outdoor activities at Bangor University. This involves learning the principles of sport science, to then applying them in extreme practical sessions every week where we undertake climbing, hiking and kayaking.
Outside lectures, I am involved in many clubs including women’s futsal, climbing, canoe, snow sports, cycling and of course triathlon, for which I am vice-captain. At the triathlon club, I am usually organising and coaching sessions. Being at university means that I have plenty of time to train as I work towards the European Championships, without having to get up too early! Having new places to ride and run is providing great motivation to get out to train, even if it is rather hilly.
I am also lucky enough to have been awarded a sports scholarship for triathlon. This provides me with funding for the European Championships in the Netherlands, as well as support from the researchers at Bangor and training sessions with strength and conditioning coaches.
Life at university is very different to being at home as you realise what you took for granted; such as getting your washing done for free (which is rather a lot being a sports student!), but you get so much more freedom and opportunities to try new things, as well as making lifelong friends. With Bangor being such a small university, at the very top of Wales, it means that you will rarely go anywhere without seeing someone you know, which creates a nice sense of community and is a great place to be!
Josh has taken a gap year to volunteer on an Aardvark project in South Africa in Limpopo Province. He tells us "I was volunteering on a research project studying the behaviour of wild Aardvarks. This mainly involved going out into the bush and taking photographs of the holes they dig and looking out for any fresh ones so you can build up an idea of where they go, how many holes they dig each night and things like that. The photos were taken on an app called GPS Tracks which also geo-locates them so you get to see clearly on a map where they dig their holes and look for any trends in the data. Anyway, once the project is complete, the University of Pretoria will publish a paper with all of their findings and I will have a mention on it for the small part I played. I am also hoping to go back for another month or so later on this year before I go to Uni to help out a bit more."
Ellie has been concentrating on her art work since leaving Hanley Sixth Form, having decided to reapply for a course in Zoology at Hartpury where she will be starting in September.