Daniel Paice studied with Inspire Education Group for a total of four years – two spent completing A Levels, and a further two studying an ACCESS to University course in Humanities. Despite experiencing what Daniel described as “poor mental health, due to a barrage of health complications” during this time, Daniel has gone on to be awarded Inaugural Stamford Poet Laureate status, and now tutors English at his former place of study.
Daniel commended the pastoral support he received from Stamford College during his time as a student; “It was the best and most personalised support I have received from an educational institution. There was plenty of support from my tutors and the Welfare Team - I felt that staff were aware of the assistance I may need, and they were ready to listen if there was anything that needed explaining further. Mary Whitmore [Head of SEND and ALS] and her team were very supportive in regards to getting around College, and being aware that my needs could change very suddenly, in regards to my health. They managed the mountains of paperwork and communication that was needed to keep my support network consistent behind the scenes, and were dedicated to advocating and receiving an EHCP to aid my support going forward”.
Daniel continued, “On the academic front, my tutors were regularly checking to see how my health was progressing, and if they could help. Marilyn Kennedy [Assistant Principal of Academic Curriculum and Maths & English] in particular comes to mind, because she was doing her best to understand how this spike in health issues was affecting me, both academically and personally. From there, we had several meetings on how the study programme could be adjusted, and other options if necessary. I found my tutors’ own academic achievements to be inspiring in themselves, and I used them as motivation. I also received support from the Careers Team - it was hard balancing my health with my academic endeavours, but they were (are) a great sounding board, in which to express my concerns and plans. What touched me the most was the fact that all this support was centred around me achieving my potential, no matter how much life gets in the way (it didn't feel like pushing me through the system for the sake of ticking a box)”.
Since completing his studies, Daniel has returned to Stamford College, as an English Tutor. He explained, “When I was studying, I was undecided between committing myself to the counselling route, or more of the English/writing route. In April of 2022, I was made the Inaugural Stamford Poet Laureate, alongside the Stamford Poet Laureate, Scott Coe (the gravity of which hasn’t sunk in yet, even after all this time!). Essentially, the role has been split between us, but my efforts are focused on young people and getting them involved with poetry in particular, but also writing and reading in general. This has been done in many ways, such as giving talks, workshops and readings, and of course, not forgetting my books, written and published alongside the role. It was the affirmation that I needed to encourage me towards my current direction. I had a discussion with Stamford College about my developments - writing is a passion of mine, and I love helping people, so I wanted to give something back, but I also wanted a job that would harness my talent and skill. I was subsequently offered the job as an English Tutor”.
Daniel compared the support he received as a student, to his experience as a staff member; “I have a few underlying health conditions and the College has (again) been very quick at accommodating them where necessary, such as making sure the Health and Safety Team are aware, and having a plan of action in place should certain events occur. It has also been nice to reconnect with staff and my previous lecturers in a different way; they knew me as a student, and they have seen me develop as a person over the last few years. We all work really well as a team and have the common goal of wanting to do our best for the students. It is honestly so lovely to help the students achieve their potential”.
Learning of Daniel’s inspiring story, Daniel was approached by The Conversation Stamford for an interview. The Conversation Stamford, which exists to enrich local schools’ PSHE programmes, are tailoring a workshop for Key Stage 2 pupils, relating to themes of identity and future aspirations. Advocating for children to consider their own identity, but to also “let other people’s lights shine”, the organisation is ensuring gender, race and disability representation throughout the interview process, to introduce the students to the concept of unconscious bias from an early age. They will be encouraged to think about their hobbies and interests and how these inform their futures, highlighting to some that they too could become a successful writer, just like Daniel.