Danny Bowman is Student Ambassador for The Conservative Education Society and a student at The University of York.
These times remain difficult for many students, unsure of how their primary, secondary, further or high educational attainment may be affected by Covid-19. However, I know we will get through this, and when we do we need to make sure that there is a voice for all students in The Conservative Party.
I was delighted to be asked to be the Student Ambassador for the Conservative Education Society - The Conservative Party's official, affiliated education group, as I know how important a mechanism education can be to gain knowledge, skills and truly change a person’s life. I know this because I have experienced it in my own life.
When I was younger I dropped out of education at the age of 16 with no qualifications and joined the group of NEET’s (Not in Education, Training or Employment). I was also housebound experiencing a chronic mental health problem. I felt hopeless, isolated and left behind with no easy solution in sight. I felt that the life I’d always wanted to live was slipping away before my eyes. I had become scared of education and doubtful about my ability to succeed in it. I decided to take on voluntary roles to get me by, still mulling over if I would ever be able to attempt the long road back to the future I wanted for myself.
After treatment for my mental health, I eventually got up the courage to enrol in now adult education at my local college. I felt embarrassed about my situation and scared of failing, but it was only when I dared to fail that I started to succeed.
I started taking classes in English and Maths, gaining the skills I needed from inspiring teaching staff. Learning in a hub that had been created within an old shopping centre in Byker in Newcastle, I started to believe in myself again, gaining my GCSE’s in year 1.
In year 2, I started my Level 3 in Health and Social Care. I learned inside the classroom in practice hospital wards, and outside of the classroom in an inspiring, innovative and compassionate local care home. Learning from the brilliant staff there who taught me how to care and support the elderly.
By year 3 I had won a place at the University of York to read Social Policy, going in as a mature student. University felt like a terrifying place at first with feelings of imposter syndrome. Although, the staff and students in my department and at the University made me feel supported and like I belonged. I’ve now almost finished my degree.
My educational journey is what has inspired me to encourage others to play their part in helping others succeed. My own experience and the knowledge gained from others has informed what I would like to achieve in this role.
I want to help facilitate discussions on how to end the barriers faced by lots of young people in accessing and staying within the education system. Students that experience mental health problems, that are in care and from certain communities for too long have been allowed to fall between the cracks of the system.
I want to reach out to mature students and discuss some of the major issues they face because age should never be a barrier to accessing, and staying in, education
I want to help assist discussions on vocational education, recognising that behind every student is an individual with their own skill set and not one-route-fits-all.
I want to listen and learn from students about the issues they face, opening the dialogue between students and The Conservative Party to make sure that the most appropriate policies are being implemented.
Education matters to us all, and getting it right starts by improving the experience of students to make sure that every child and young person has the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and create a better life for themselves.