Student Spotlight
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Student Spotlight

4 minutes reading time (778 words)

Washington Shearer

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Adult Education Wolverhampton would like to congratulate Washington Shearer on his learning achievements and is proud to announce that he has been chosen by the Festival of learning for the National Return to Learning Award'.

The Festival of Learning is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England. The mission is to highlight the benefits of learning, celebrate achievements of adults who have used learning to transform their lives, and to encourage everyone to embrace lifelong learning.

Each year Adult Education nominates a number of individuals from across the Service. This year Adult Education Wolverhampton are proud to announce that 3 of our students have been recognised for their achievements.


Washington's Story 

Whilst serving a five and a half year prison sentence I seriously started to think about the need to change my life. All my adult life I had hidden the fact that I couldn't read or write; I felt ashamed and embarrassed when faced with endless forms to fill in. I finally had to admit my failure. It was at this point that my life started to turn around.

In prison I had started to learn some basic English and this made me want to learn more.

When I left prison in 2013 I decided that learning English would be a great opportunity and give me a better future. I had always done manual work so I didn't have to read or write but now I wanted to improve my life.

It took me until September 2016 to find the confidence to join Adult Education Wolverhampton to study English Entry Level 1. My tutor was brilliant and made learning fun. I passed my exams and am currently studying Entry level 2. I want to keep learning and will hopefully work my way through to GCSE! I now love learning and look forward to every English class.

In prison I had a lot of time to think, in fact serving time was like a standstill in my life but it also gave me the opportunity to start afresh; time to leave all the negative stuff in the past. I had let my whole family down and also had to cope with the breakdown of my marriage too. I felt I owed my children more, I needed to prove myself to them and I wanted them to be proud and not ashamed.

I had made excuses all their lives why I couldn't help them with their homework and realised I didn't want to have to use the same excuses with my grandchildren. I want them to see me as a good role model. I want to work but being an ex-con means I have to go one step further. It's almost as if I come with a tag that says 'not employable- he's a convict'. I need to prove that I have changed and I will! I am a good man who made a mistake…


Studying is empowering me, my confidence and my self-esteem has grown. I now believe in myself and have expectations for a much brighter future. I no longer have to suffer in silence feeling ashamed because I can't read or write. I had years of people not realising I couldn't read or write properly, but I have realised that if you don't tell people no one can help you. I think I learned all the tricks that helped me hide my failure but they didn't get me anywhere. You can't turn the clocks back.

I am so happy I can now sit with my grandchildren and read them a simple story; I wish I had been able to do this with my children instead of telling them I was busy all the time. I feel this has helped me to develop my relationship with them and I feel closer to them. I missed out on this with my own children. I am proud that I have now been able to connect with family and friends using social media and send texts to keep in touch, something I never thought I would be able to do. I feel like a normal person! I realise I still have a long way to go though.

I now have ambitions and one day I hope to work with kids and adults as a mentor, perhaps sharing my story will save them from having to make the same mistakes that I made and help them to take the right path in life. I want to achieve more now and make my family, and especially my mum, who still lives in Jamaica, proud of me. Everyone should be allowed a second chance…this is my chance!"

Watch Washington's story 

Hala Akhras
Creativity through poetry

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