Access to HE student becomes the teacher

We recently took a trip to South Essex College to meet Access to HE learners for an impromptu, open and honest discussion about their experience of study for a Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diploma.

Members of teaching staff at South Essex College previously studied a Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diploma before moving onto higher education, and then teaching Access to HE at the college to the next generation of learners.


Jack Bryant obtained good GCSE grades and classed himself as quite academic, but once he left school Jack was in a different mindset and his focus was on being a teenager. After years of travelling, Jack’s outlook changed, and he realised he wanted to pursue a career. Jack enrolled onto Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diploma (Teaching) at South Essex College.

I knew there would be a lot of work involved when I started education again, but from day one I had good vibes. This course was the steppingstone I needed, and it fully prepared me for the path I knew I wanted to take.

Jack Bryant, Tutor, South Essex College

After successfully completing his diploma and achieving a degree, Jack applied for a position at South Essex College and is now teaching Maths.

Access to HE has been the highlight for me because it really got me into the swing of things. Being a teacher now, I know when I have a student who is studying a Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diploma - they're keen, they're always ready to learn more; the course really prepares them for hard work, and it encourages me to push them further and they welcome that challenge! The skills they learn from the diploma really transcends into the next stage of their academic life - I don't see that same drive and preparation from other learners.

Jack Bryant, Tutor, South Essex College


After having her daughter at a young age, Karen Clark studied Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diploma (Teaching) at South Essex College before progressing onto a degree in Psychology. Like Jack, Access to HE peaked Karen’s interest as she now volunteer-teaches Gateway Qualifications Access to HE Diplomas at South Essex College.

I really want to teach Access and Access only because I really value what the Gateway Qualifications' course has done for me - it honestly built my confidence; I was a mouse before. The number of hours, amount of effort and detail that has gone into the qualification itself really adds to the credibility of Access to HE Diplomas.

Karen Clark, Volunteer-tutor, South Essex College

One of the main pros about her diploma was the range of assessment types that she could be assessed on.

I like the variety - exams are too much pressure; you can turn up and have a mind block and are unable to prove what you are able to do. A portfolio of evidence means I can provide quality work that shows what I have learned.

Karen Clark, volunteer-tutor, South Essex College

Karen then progressed onto university and took a degree in psychology due to the psychology units she studied in her Access to HE Diploma.

The range of units from Gateway Qualifications meant I started with one pathway in mind, and then it opened up so many doors and showed me another route - but you still succeed and end up where you wanted to go [in higher education].

Karen Clark, volunteer-tutor, South Essex College

Working with Gateway Qualifications

Access to HE was all new to me and I was so nervous. But no matter who I come into contact with at Gateway Qualifications, I feel supported – no question is too silly. We have so much welcome contact with Gateway Qualifications that it’s not scary for us when you come in – we already know you face to face. We don’t feel intimated to ask for help or further training – you never say, “you should know this” – you wouldn’t get that support from other AVAs. Your moderators are really clear on what they want – it’s not a scary process. We actually look forward to it: here’s the hard work the students have done, here’s the hard work our staff have done – it’s our time to show off. We welcome you in and are really grateful. For anything that we want to find out for ourselves, we can go on the website and see the Centre Handbook which literally talks you through everything you need to know! The website is really straightforward and clear too – everything is downloadable and useable. We have no plans to change AVA.” –  Abigail Clarke, Access to HE Quality Manager, South Essex College