Five years ago, as a college student, Liam Sheridan had never even considered going on to university.
No-one in his working-class family had ever excelled at school or entered higher education, and he felt he needed to earn some money.
But then a friend told Liam, who was attending a basketball academy in his home city of Birmingham, about the opportunity to combine basketball training with studying for a degree at the University of Worcester.
Five years later Liam not only has an undergraduate degree in Sports Studies under his belt, but graduated with a Primary PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) in November 2011.
“Completing my undergraduate degree was a big enough challenge,” said the 22-year-old. “But the PGCE was really tough. I was very close to throwing the towel in during my final placement but my tutors and my family got me through it and now I’m really proud to have completed it.”
Liam went through a personal upheaval part way through the course but realised that he had already come too far to fall at the final hurdle.
During his four years at the University of Worcester Liam has been heavily involved with the Worcester Wolves basketball team, and it was the opportunity to coach children through the Wolves’ mentoring and Learning Through Sport programmes that encouraged him to apply to the Primary PGCE.
“As part of my Sports Studies course we did lots of coaching in local schools and I really enjoyed working with the children,” he added. “I decided that teaching was a career I wanted to pursue.”
Liam is now continuing with his coaching in the hope of one day starting his own coaching business.
“I’m really pleased to have got my PGCE and although I am not immediately looking to work in a school, as I’m pursuing my coaching, I think one day I will follow this route.”
The University of Worcester runs a number of outreach programmes, including its innovative Learning Through Sport scheme, in which students from the University help develop pupils’ maths and English skills using examples from sport, sending students to mentor pupils studying for their GCSEs in schools in deprived areas, and providing impartial careers advice to hard-to-reach adults such as working-class parents.