College Students Trading Places, “Apprentice” style!

A Valleys student has just been offered a coveted place to study English at the world-renowned University of Oxford, after college lecturers spotted her potential and placed her on the fast-track to A-level success.

Shannon Britton, 18, from Ferndale, had originally set her sights on a music management career and signed up for a BTEC vocational course at Coleg y Cymoedd, with an English AS- level alongside.

However, while studying on her English course, Shannon realised her passion for the subject and set her sights on studying English at University. Shannon’s academic potential was recognised by her lecturer, Sonia Lowe, who supported her decision to take on further A-levels, under the college’s fast-track scheme, and urged her to apply to Oxford’s English department.

Now she’s received a conditional offer to study English literature and language at Exeter College, Oxford, one of the university’s oldest and most prestigious colleges.

Shannon is pursuing English, law and history under Coleg y Cymoedd’s A-level fast-track programme, which sees her studying AS and A-levels in law and history simultaneously, in addition to her A-level in English literature and language.

She attributes her success to date to the continued support she has received from Sonia and other lecturers at the college, who have given their time to help her with the rigorous application process required by Oxford.

Shannon said: “It’s hard to explain the excitement I felt receiving the offer of a place at Oxford, but I genuinely think that my lecturers and family were even more excited than I was. My mother’s told everyone she can.

“Looking back it’s odd to see how my plans have changed during my time at Coleg y Cymoedd. I chose to attend the college because I felt I was ready to leave school, and be more independent. It felt like a step towards university.

“Oxford wasn’t my original plan, but my tutors’ support and guidance encouraged me in my decision to try the fast-track and apply.. It’s a lot of work but I’m committed to doing the best I can. The success has even inspired my sister to aim for Cambridge; I’d encourage anyone to apply, you never really know what can happen.”

Shannon will be among the first students to sit A-level exams at Coleg y Cymoedd’s dedicated A Level centre; part of the new £40 million Nantgarw campus which opened in September 2012.

The college operates in partnership with St David’s Catholic College Cardiff and Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic School in Pontypridd and, with over 600 learners, is now the largest A-level provider in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly.

Commenting on Shannon’s Oxford offer, Judith Evans, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Shannon is a shining example of the young potential that exists in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly. Her hard work and commitment to her studies, combined with the support she has received from her lecturers, encapsulates our college’s ethos and mission to strengthen the valleys through excellent education, skills and training.

“We wish Shannon every success in her exams and call upon all learners to use her inspiring story as the catalyst to pursue and achieve their own goals though education.”



Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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