Distinction Interview

September 14, 2020

Our AAT tutor, Adill, had two of his students produce distinctions recently. We thought this the perfect opportunity to ask him a few questions about these students, apprenticeships in general and Adill gave some really great insight into apprenticeships from a tutor’s perspective. Read on to see what he had to say!

1. When students pass, that’s already something to celebrate. As their trainer, what would you say pushed these students to produce distinctions?

From their first day of learning, my apprentices know passing or failing isn’t an option. You will pass and what I am concerned about is whether you pass with 90% or 100%. Once you take away the option of failing an exam, learners gain a different mindset of how well I am going to pass. What pushed these two to produce distinctions was a mix of friendly rivalry and a large amount of dedication on their own part. Within the class, there was always a friendly cordial banter between the two to see who would get the highest score. Ultimately, they both averaged 93% and the rivalry goes onto Level 4.

There is a determination and dedication in themselves which drives them to want to be the best for themselves and their employers. For both, passing the exam was not enough. Getting 97% meant that marks were lost, and an opportunity missed, and you could see them questioning themselves and reflecting on what could have gone wrong. It is that character and need to do the best they possibly can that I can accredit their distinctions too.

2. How is it, having your students produce distinctions, as their trainer you must be so proud.

It is cliché and cringy, but every trainer will tell you, we work tirelessly for our learners and over a prolonged period and the end result is judged in the space of a few hours. We want the best for our learners, and we want to see them aspire to see them be the best they can be. When learners do achieve the distinctions, you feel a sense of achievement money can’t buy and it’s a priceless moment that’s hard to recreate.

To say I am proud of my students achieve a distinction would be a massive understatement – I am over the moon for them. Nonetheless, I find that the greatest lesson I have learnt from these two learners is humility. Getting 90% plus and a distinction in your qualification does not give you bragging rights. It makes you humble and want to achieve more. It makes you wonder what could I have done differently to have got a better score?

One the one hand I am very proud and could not be happier for them but on the other, it reminds of a need to keep my feet on the ground and to raise the standard next time.

3. Is there any advice you have for other apprentices who hope to reach a distinction?

You only get out what you put in – there are never any surprises. If you bake a cake and forget the sugar, the cake will not taste sweet. It’s an old-fashioned mantra I know but come results day, there isn’t often many surprises. My advice to every learner is after each session, go home and write up your notes. If that means making colourful A3 posters, Q cards or just reading over your notes, you do your thing. However, make sure you go over your notes on a weekly basis. This cements the learning and makes the revision process so much easier. Second, ask questions. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. It’s most likely there are 10 others sitting around you wanting to ask the same question but don’t want to sound stupid. Moreover, my learners know I am available 24/7 – whether they want to text or call. If you are too scared to ask in class, speak to your tutor after class. As amazing teachers, we can help you get distinctions, but we cannot read your minds.

4. Finally, for anyone reading this and wondering if an apprenticeship is for them, what would you want them to know?

There are multiple options you can take and there is no right or wrong way. Personally speaking, I took the A Levels and degree route and have no regrets. A small part of me thinks the apprenticeship route could have been better – ultimately though it depends on what you want to do? If you know you want to be an accountant for example, an apprenticeship is the right thing for you. If you are unsure, work experience in that sector initially may be a better option.

Over the years, I have seen a common theme with what apprentices wished they’d known before they started the apprenticeship. Firstly, if you are an apprentice, you are not there to make the teas or look pretty. You will be treated like a full-time employee and you have to pitch in. You have to be on your best behaviour and do the job that you are an apprentice for. It’s a common misconception that the apprentice is going to shadow the experienced staff and learn on the job. You will be learning on the job, but you will be doing that job too.

Apprenticeships are open to people of all ages and a certain level of maturity is needed. For those entering from a school leaver age will need to remember, this is a very different environment to school. This is the real world. It is therefore important you have a good set of transferable skills and are open minded to the challenges that lie ahead.

Nothing worth having comes easy and nothing is guaranteed in life. As an apprentice, it’s important to remember that you are working toward a qualification and working full time! It’s hard enough studying full time or working full time. Combining the two is a demanding task for anyone and you have to ask yourself, am I driven and motivated to meet this challenge head on?