The words, “I’m not sure you are quite ready for GCSE English”, dried on his soon to be tutor's lips when she saw the steely determination behind Ferzende’s eyes.

Ordinarily, as someone so new to the UK, Ferzende would have been guided towards a basic English course, but when he mentioned that he wanted to read a Thomas Hardy novel, she decided to give Ferzende a chance.

It was the right decision. His remarkable success on the GCSE English course was just the beginning. It became a springboard for further study, and earlier this year he graduated with an MA in English Literature from the University of Warwick. Both a PhD and a PGCE beckon.

The circumstances in which Ferzende embarked on that initial GCSE English course would have proved unsurmountable to all but the most resilient of learners. Stripped of friends and family, thrust into bleak hostel accommodation he somehow found the strength to throw himself into the course. The story of his epic journey across Europe and his positivity in the face of adversity inspired his fellow learners, and he quickly became the beating heart of the group.

Ferzende decided to stay on with BAES in a voluntary capacity and has had a tremendous impact on the lives of three years’ worth of GCSE English learners. He has proved himself a natural teacher. More than that, the learners see in him someone for whom education had provided a bridge to another world.

The photograph of him being awarded his MA is one which his tutor proudly shares with learners along with the story of how he made his dream come true. Ferzende's learning journey continues, and he is currently applying for PhD funding while working with refugees in Birmingham.

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