Bramley bus driver goes extra mile to further learning
A Bramley bus driver who has struggled with dyslexia since an early age, has gone the extra mile to gain new qualifications and has thus received a national award.
Ashley Pickering, a bus driver for First Leeds in Bramley, has been announced as the winner of the Festival of Learning Regional Learning for Work award (sponsored by NOCN) in the Northern region for his exceptional achievements in adult learning. This award celebrates individuals who have worked hard to improve their employment prospects through further education and lifelong learning.
At an early age, Ashley was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was socially withdrawn. His negative experiences at school had left him with no confidence or qualifications, but after starting work with First Leeds as a driver, he started to attend a variety of classes in Bramley Learning Centre. FirstGroup has several learning centres across the country working in partnership with Unite the Union; the partnership gives all our colleagues access to a wealth of educational resources.
Ashley’s learning curve included maths, English and ICT and completed a variety of vocational short courses at the First Group Academy. Through the support of Mandy Harmer, from the funded learning team, Ashley was able to gain an apprenticeship in Passenger Carrying Vehicle, which is equivalent to five GCSE’s and enabled Ashley to gain his functional skills in literacy and numeracy.
He now works on the school bus run and his belief in himself means he can handle the more complex situations that arise from working with children. Thanks to his job and qualifications, Ashley, now 33, engages in social situations for the first time in his life and says that he is happy that he has something to aim for.
Dominic Goldrick, NEYH Union Learning Organiser, Unite the Union, Ashley’s nominator, says: “It took a great deal of courage for Ashley to return to education, but with the support and camaraderie from his colleagues and in particularly his trade union learning representative, Barry Young, Ashley has not looked back.”
Ashley says: “I feel more confident and assertive and I am enjoying the challenges learning brings.”
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said: “Ashley’s story reminds us of the many personal challenges that people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities can face but also the power of learning to help people overcome them.
“Lifelong learning is crucial for all of us as jobs and society changes around us, and as the working population gets older. Festival of Learning is all about people being inspired by stories like Ashley's. We encourage everyone to get involved in learning and access information on learning opportunities and support with the costs of learning that might be available, such as through Advanced Learner Loans or from the National Careers Service, as well as talking to their local colleges and providers about what’s on offer.”