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BTEC Student Secures First Choice University


Male sports student

A Newtownabbey student who left school without any qualifications thrived when he went to Northern Regional College and achieved an overall distinction profile to secure a place at his first choice university. Stephen Harris, who completed the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport at the College’s Newtownabbey campus with a Distinction* and two Distinctions – the equivalent of three A levels – now plans to do a Coaching degree at Liverpool John Moores University.

I’d a horrible time at school because of bullying and I came to the College because I wanted to somehow try and get some qualifications to make up for things,” he said.

Stephen continued: “Because I have Asperger’s, social situations can be difficult but I feel a lot more confident now because the College allowed me to grow and develop as a person.”

After leaving secondary school, Stephen completed an inclusive learning course to progress to do Level 2 and Level 3 Diplomas in Sport.  As part of the course, he volunteered with the Special Olympics Club at Valley Leisure Centre and discovered he had a natural aptitude for coaching  

Stephen, who now has his sights set on a career in coaching, said he would ‘absolutely’ recommend the course.

“I enjoyed everything about it, from learning about different sports, studying subjects like anatomy and psychology to meeting some of my best friends who will be going to university with me.

“It’s very good for developing yourself and giving a good insight to the world of sport - and you’ll make plenty of friends who will be there to support you.”

Lucy Fagan, co-ordinator of the Level 3 Sports at Newtownabbey said Stephen had been a pleasure teach.

“Stephen started his journey at the College seven years ago in the SEN/Inclusive Learning Department and progressed through those courses to do Level 2 First Diploma in Sport. He also successfully completed Essential skills in Maths, English and ICT which gave him the confidence to progress to Level 3.

“Due to ill health, Stephen had to take a year out of his studies but when he returned, he worked hard and completed his Level 3 Diploma with an overall Distinction.  Alongside his studies, he regularly volunteers as a coach with the local Special Olympics Club. Stephen is enthusiastic, hard-working and supportive to his peers and it was a pleasure to teach him over the past number of years. ”