“Before I started on the Future Leaders Programme, I didn’t see myself going to uni."

Coaching conversations helped Lewis balance his commitments and see the advantages of higher education
Lewis R
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Former Future Leader Lewis is now halfway through the first year of his Engineering degree at Newcastle University. He joined the Villiers Park Future Leaders Programme at Churchill Community College, Tyne and Wear, in October 2020 as a Year 12, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the Programme being delivered online, Lewis worked hard with his Progression Coach to create clearer visions of his possible selves, and plan his pathways to success. One of his main challenges was time-management: 

“A levels are a lot of work: coursework, revision, all that. My part-time job was giving me more hours that I needed. I also rank in Air Cadets and have lot of responsibilities there - looking after the younger cadets, running nights. I took too much on and was really stressed out. I almost had a breakdown at the start of Year 13.” 

This led to coaching conversations about how Lewis could balance these commitments. He showed a strong social conscience by wanting to ensure younger Cadets got the same opportunities offered to him, but was finding his leadership responsibilities overwhelming. Creating a rota with other leaders through the revision and exam period meant that the Cadets programme was still supported, but no individual was over-burdened, and time could be dedicated to studying. 

Engineering became his subject focus and Lewis clearly saw himself continuing to study at a higher level, which wasn’t always the case: 

“Before I started on the Future Leaders Programme, I didn’t see myself going to uni. I was planning to join the RAF after sixth form, but through my conversations with Alex I realised that might limit my options later on. I still don’t think I’d have done it without help choosing a uni or with my personal statement - things like that. My parents didn’t go to uni so they couldn’t really help with the process or informing me about what it would be like, and they were really worried about the financial impact.” 

Through coaching conversations, Lewis decided that he wanted to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering somewhere near home in the North East. He ended up choosing Newcastle for the added prestige of studying at a Russell Group university: 

“I did consider going further afield, but most of my mates are doing apprenticeships locally. Leaving the area would have meant leaving everything behind, so living at home during my first year was a compromise but I’m planning on moving out next year. Alex also helped me to apply for a bursary. I couldn’t believe it when I got it. That’s going to help a lot with costs which is massively reassuring for my parents, and for me.” 

Lewis is still getting his head around another big step up in academic workload, plus everything else that comes with entering higher education. He’s busy, but coping well - something he credits the Future Leaders Programme with: 

“Villiers helped prepare me for what uni would be like. I’m following the same scheduling process that Alex helped me establish last year. I’m happy now and feel prepared for what’s coming in the future.” 

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