Young carer and HMP Nottingham Prison Officer awarded Learner of the Year by NCFE

Young carer wins Aspiration Award from NCFE during his vocational qualfication in uniformed services

Mark Miles, a Prison Officer and former learner at Ashfield Comprehensive School, has been awarded Learner of the Year in our Aspiration Awards, following the completion of his vocational qualification in Uniformed Services.

Mark is an inspiring young man whose personal circumstances were stacked against him. Having lost his father in 2011, Mark acted as a carer for his mother who has rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease whilst at school and continues to do so. These obstacles didn’t prevent him from excelling in his qualification and quickly securing work.

Qualification helps aspiring Royal Marines

In spite of his busy home life, Mark is a committed pupil and was driven by his dream to be a Royal Marine to undertake a technical qualification in Uniformed Services whilst at school. Mark achieved exemplar marks in each of his units during his Level 3 Extended Diploma for Entry to the Uniformed Services and such was Mark’s incredible progress and attainment in the qualification, he has acted as a role model and mentor for other pupils in his class.

Fundraising for Help for Heroes

Mark’s achievements have also been complemented by his commitment to extracurricular activities and voluntary work including multiple triathlons and other fundraising efforts to raise money for Help for Heroes, the Blue Lamp Foundation and Seeing is Believing. Mark has also pursued his sporting interests and is now the Super Welterweight Midlands Champion with the Inspired Championship Boxing authority and has gained his black belt in Judo.

Julie Taylor, Assistant Head of Vocational Education at Ashfield School said: ‘Mark is the embodiment of the values and standards that we encourage in all of our students.  He is an outstanding example of what can be achieved in the face of adversity and is an inspiring individual whose consideration for others is humbling to witness.  We are absolutely delighted that NCFE are acknowledging him in this way; he is a truly worthy winner and a great ambassador for Ashfield School and its Uniformed Services programmes of study.’

A new career path as a Prison Officer

The admirable sense of responsibility that Mark has towards his home life has caused him to reconsider his career path. Although physically able, Mark has chosen to remain close to home to help with the care of his mother, rather than join the forces and be away from home. Mark has demonstrated the versatility and access to the workplace offered by his technical qualification by successfully completing the selection process to become a Prison Officer.

Young carer wins Aspiration Award from NCFE during his vocational qualfication in uniformed services

Mark said: ‘I am honoured to have won this award and I am so grateful to Mrs. Taylor for nominating me. The skills and knowledge I have developed during my NCFE qualification have been invaluable in all aspects of my life, especially to the beginning of my new career and continue to serve me well to this day. In the future, I know that I will be able to use these transferable skills in order to further develop myself and help me to progress in my career.’

Eve Richardson, Director at NCFE said: ‘It is a great honour to be able to recognise the achievements and determination of such an inspiring young man with a bright future. Mark demonstrates the endless possibilities which are available to learners of technical qualifications especially when paired with their own grit and determination. Mark is a deserved winner of the Learner of the Year award.

Award supports self-care and good mental health

It's going to be hugely important for Mark’s continued progression to take care of himself and his mental health. His job can be stressful and he prioritises his family and others before himself. We awarded Mark a self-care package including a relaxing spa break, a Garmin watch to support his sport activities and a kindle to encourage him to take time out for himself.

About the awards

This is the second year of the Aspiration Awards, where we asked schools and teachers to nominate a ‘Learner of the Year’ with big aspirations and the determination to see it though. The scheme was developed to recognise learners who are using technical qualifications to help them reach their goals and make positive improvements to their life.