A final year podiatry student who transformed his life through university education has been presented with an award from the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network.
Daniel Pauley, a twenty five year old Podiatry student from the Scottish Borders, was presented with the award of ‘Outstanding Achievement in Education’ at the Fostering Excellence Awards in London.
Daniel, who left school at the tender age of 15 with hardly any qualifications, has used his university education to transform his life and train for a career in healthcare where he could help others. His recent success on BSc (Hons) Podiatry at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh was recognised by the Fostering Excellence Award. The boy who had been written off in his teenage years had won an award for attaining the highest clinical grade in his year group (Level 3 Clinical Studies prize in 2016-17) at QMU.
At the end of October, Daniel travelled to London to take part in the prestigious ceremony in Westminster where he received his award during an afternoon tea reception. It was the first time that he’d visited the capital so he was pleased that his flatmate and fellow final year podiatry student, Katherine Moffatt, was able to join him as his guest and share the experience.
Now in their fourth year, the Fostering Excellence Awards provide a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the young people, foster carers, social workers and others who make a positive contribution to the fostering community. The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, was particularly keen to mark the achievements of some of the young people in the UK who have been fostered. He said: “We believe that with the right support, particularly from foster carers, care experienced young people can truly thrive.”
Daniel spent some of his life in foster care. Sadly, only 6% of children in foster care go on to university level education compared to 43% of people who have not been fostered, so it was indeed a great achievement when Daniel secured his place on the podiatry degree at QMU.
His podiatry lecturer, Evelyn Weir, who is also a foster carer herself, nominated Daniel for the award. She was overjoyed to discover that he’d actually won.
Evelyn knows only too well what an accomplishment it is for Daniel to have made it onto a degree programme. She said: “We are very proud of QMU’s reputation in widening access and in supporting students from all backgrounds to achieve their full potential. We all need to work together to help transform lives and I am pleased that Daniel is finding QMU to be a good fit. He is clearly enjoying his university journey and thriving within it. Daniel left school with very little in the way of qualifications, but through hard work, resilience and determination, he started from scratch by going back to college and is now in his final year of his studies.”
Daniel explained: “When I was at school there was really no support and it was very disheartening. I’d had a lot of difficulties at home and I didn’t get any encouragement from the teachers, so I had no self-belief. It was no surprise that I didn’t do well academically. But I eventually realised two things – I loved helping people and I enjoyed health and fitness, so I picked myself up, went back to college and got an HND. That helped me get a place at QMU on the BSc (Hons) Podiatry, and I’ve never looked back.
“As a foster child, you can be easily cast off. If no-one believes in you, then you don’t believe in yourself. But my experience at QMU has completely transformed my life. I am shocked at how much help and support is available – from financial support through bursaries, which means I should complete my degree without building up massive debt - to the incredible support of the academics and professional services staff. They are totally invested in helping students be all they can be. At last, I’ve found people who believe in me, so I can start believing in myself.
Daniel continued: “As a student of QMU, I am no longer overlooked - I am more than just a number. I have people who are 100% behind me and are helping me achieve my goals. This encouragement means I’ve developed a passion for learning and I always keep classes running late because I ask so many questions.
“I am incredibly lucky to be where I am today, and am particularly grateful to my lecturer, Evelyn Weir, who is one of the most vital people I have ever met. Her contribution to the university and her influence on the student experience is immense. Evelyn and QMU make me believe I can do it!
Evelyn said: “Daniel has made a positive contribution to the University and is working hard to achieve his goal of becoming a podiatrist, possibly working within the NHS. He is an absolute inspiration to me, to my foster children and to all of our other students at QMU. We are all delighted that his hard work and positive attitude have been recognised by the Fostering Excellence Awards. I could not be more proud of or pleased for him.”
Daniel really enjoyed meeting people at the awards ceremony and his message to everyone met at the event was: “Promote education for kids and make sure they have the support they need to take full advantage their learning opportunities.” Daniel concluded: “If I can do it, they can too.”
Notes to Editor
- The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children.
- The Fostering Excellence Awards are the UK’s leading foster care awards. They celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement in fostering and recognise those who make exceptional contributions to foster care every year.
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