“Thanks to Step Into Education I’m working and feel confident enough to return to college.”

Sadly, I missed the last nine months of Year 11 because the bullying at school became too much for me to deal with. It had been going on since around Year 9. To start with, it was just a couple of people in my year but it became more and more people over time. I told teachers but they didn’t help me. They thought it was easier to remove me from class than to deal with the bullies.

I felt quite lost when I left school but I knew I wanted to work with horses, so I applied to a college far from where I lived to study Equestrian studies. I wanted to get away from the bullies and avoid future conflict but this meant getting up at 6am every day, catching an early train and still rushing to get into my first lesson on time. Doing this 4-5 days a week plus trying to keep up with so much coursework was too much.

Careers Wales referred me to ACT initially but after I met with Step into Education tutors, I asked to be referred and start lessons with them. I knew I could learn more about horses and build up my CV at the same time. Coming out of school with no GCSE’s meant I needed to boast my qualifications.

I was so scared going into Step into Education because I thought it would be the same as school but it was completely different. They treat you like you’re a responsible person, so if you’re late for example, they don’t punish you for it, they ask if you’re ok, to try and find out if there’s anything going on causing the lateness. They give you time to think and if you need a bit of space or some time to do something else, they let you.

The classes are much smaller. I was in a class of about six and we all got on and completed our work. I liked the small classes because if you needed help you would get it straight away or the longest you’d wait would be five minutes if the tutor was helping someone else.

Since starting with Step into Education last October, I’ve completed about 25 Agored qualifications, which I think is the most anyone has completed in my Centre. I really enjoyed each Agored, particularly the criminal justice one. I found that even though I didn’t want to take this on as a career it taught me a lot about what could happen to a person if they commit a crime. I’d imagine this would help people avoid crime because they know the consequences. I have also learnt so much about my mental health and wellbeing and how to one day manage my own home.

Step into Education has also helped me start working in my first job, earning my own money, which has been nice. It’s allowed me to save up and book a holiday with my boyfriend later this year. I know now not to judge a job before you’ve done it yourself. I love what I do and the fact I can treat myself because I work.

I’m now looking forward to going back to college. I’ll be attending a college closer to me and studying something different and new to me. Completing the qualifications I have with Step Into Education meant the college were able to offer me a place even though I don’t have the Maths and English grades they ideally wanted. They’ve taken a chance on me.

I feel nervous that might see someone in my new college that once bullied me but I just need to remember that I’m attending college for myself and my future, not for them.

It’s hard to put into words what I’d say to someone thinking of joining Step Into Education but I think I’d tell them to take the leap. Step Into Education can help and give you the chance you deserve to become independent. You work at your own pace and to your own abilities. It worked for me.