Outstanding Individual Learner Award

Brandon Layton

2020 National Winner

Brandon was diagnosed with Autism and although he attended a specialist school, as a teenager he found his educational choices and potential were limited. Studying at Derwentside College has transformed Brandon’s life and his academic and career prospects.

“In school I was told I wouldn’t achieve any GCSEs or go into Higher Education so I never considered university an option despite always wanting to go. Learning at Derwentside College gave me the confidence to be myself and reach for goals I previously considered unobtainable.

I completed a Level 1 Foundation Learning which helped me develop my social and communication skills, then progressed to Level 2 qualifications in ICT and Business Administration, followed by a Level 3 Access to Higher Education. I was offered all four places that I applied for at university.

I’ve met people I wouldn’t have socialised with previously. I’ve been appointed as a student representative to the College Board of Governors and spoken to school groups and college learners to facilitate discussions and build awareness of Autism. Before starting college I had never travelled independently or stayed away from home without my family, but now I travel extensively on public transport, including independent trips to London to visit my brother.

Without education I know my potential would be unfulfilled. My tutors have shown a belief in me that made me profoundly consider the life I want for myself. My career goals have changed immeasurably. I want a career in politics where I can make a difference and I truly believe I’ve found the right path.”

Julie Eddy, Learning Support Leader at Derwentside College said, “Watching Brandon mature and become the adult he has reinforces to me how further education changes lives. Brandon is an exceptionally dedicated learner and without doubt the most determined person I have ever met.”