We are immensely proud of our learners and keep in touch with many of them as they follow their own individual pathways after Honywood. Many return to help mentor our current youngsters or take part in Pathway events, giving advice based on their own experience of making choices when they leave Honywood. Take a look at some our our former Learners journeys below by clicking on their image.
Our thanks to our former learners who have volunteered to appear on this page. If you are former learner and would like to share your journey, please contact Mrs Frogley at the school [email protected] or via the alumni Facebook page – Carol Frogley.
Click on the images of our learners below to read their biographies.
Ellis Golden (né Barran-Jones)
Ellis Golden (né Barran-Jones)
During my time at Honywood, I was involved with the school council, and became one of the three Lead Learners in Cohort 11. My experience throughout these roles sparked an early interest in Event Management, which is where my career has progressed.
After Honywood, I went to the Colchester Sixth Form College from 2008-2010 and took the International Baccalaureate to continue with a broad range of subjects. Choosing Maths, English, Biology, Psychology, Italian and German. I also became chairperson of the social committee, which allowed me to plan and host events within the college. Upon finishing in June 2010 I was presented with an award for academic achievement within the IB.
After college, I attended Brighton University from 2010 – 2014 and studied International Events Management. In the third year, I was offered a work placement in America working within the events team in private country clubs. I spent 6 months working at a beach club in Delray Beach, Florida and the second 6 months working at a golf club in Greenwich, Connecticut, just outside New York.
Upon returning to University for the final year I focused on my studies as well as working for the university as a student ambassador conducting open days and giving campus tours. I also formed a PR agency as part of one of my modules and worked with local business’ to develop a hanging basket scheme to rejuvenate a rundown area of the town and increase sustainability. I graduated with a first class honours degree and was offered my first graduate job shortly after finishing.
In September 2014 I started working at Quaglino’s restaurant in Mayfair as an Event Coordinator arranging events for both private and corporate clients. My role included coordinating all event details from the initial event enquiry through to the day of the event. Events ranged from 10-500 guests and included birthday celebrations, Christmas parties, anniversary dinners, film premiere after parties and weddings.
This role was a great first job and gave me invaluable experience, however I decided to move away from the hospitality sector and work within a corporate organisation. I then commenced a new role, working for Linklaters Law Firm, as a Learning & Development assistant, splitting my time between offices in Colchester and the head office in London. My role is to coordinate all the training programmes for staff in the Law Firm both in the practice and in business services.
In 2016, I returned to the USA to marry my fiancé who I met whilst on work placement in New York. I now live just outside of New York and I am expecting our first child in December 2017.
I left Honywood in 2011 and went on to study A levels in Law, English Literature, Philosophy and Drama and Theatre Studies at Colchester Sixth Form College. After which I studied Law at the University of Exeter, and I graduated in 2016 with a 2.1.
After graduating I decided to take a gap year and had an amazing time travelling around Australia and New Zealand! I was keen to see some of the world and meet people from all walks of life, before settling down for a career.
On returning, despite enjoying the study of Law, I decided it wasn’t the career for me. I thought back to what I enjoyed studying the most at Honywood, and it was English; I’ve always been an avid reader. So I started to look into Publishing. I now live and work in London in what turned out to be the perfect fit for me -Publishing recruitment! I love the industry, I’m passionate about people and really enjoy learning about people’s journeys and helping them to further their career.
I left Honywood and went to Colchester Sixth Form after for 2 years doing A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry and somehow managed to secure a place at Oxford to Study for a Masters in Engineering Science.
I left Oxford with a first class degree, and during my time there become president of my college boat club, founded our college engineering society and organised events on the varsity ski trip (3000+ persons ski trip between Oxford and Cambridge).
I am now based in Aberdeen working for Shell as a Maintenance and Integrity Engineer, currently working on onshore support and will be going to a rig in the middle of the North Sea for 2 years!
I have fond memories of Honywood and a couple of years ago returned to speak at the GCSE certificate evening, sharing my experiences since leaving the school. I remembered that at their age I wouldn’t of dreamed of going somewhere like Oxford or working in such a prestigious company as Shell, but decided to give it a go and it worked out, just because I wouldn’t take no for an answer and persevered.
After leaving Honywood I took on the International Baccalaureate, an all-round course that challenged me immensely. At the start of second year I still had no concrete university plans, so I decided to dive in at the deep end and applied for the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Based on the IB course I was accepted, and I moved to the Netherlands in August 2017- the best decision of my life.
Continuing the theme of bold choices, I moved to Quebec, Canada, for six months to immerse myself in another language, and push my comfort zone cross-continental. During my stay I performed stand-up comedy in bars, and travelled across North America with a couple of friends.
Now back in Europe, I have been working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor for a handful of Dutch companies, in addition to producing online content for a small business based in the UK. I have begun a Masters in European Studies that will lead me to a career working for the European Union; for example, policy making and organising cultural events. I look back fondly at Honywood, thankful for the skills I learned there that have led me to make courageous decisions to improve my future.
Honywood helped me in my decisions by teaching me to learn independently- hang on! I know that sounds cheesy, but if I had followed the advice of The Sixth Form College I would have gone to Kent or Exeter to study. Only using my own volition and independent research did I find out all the information I needed to study and move to another country, a choice that has transformed my life.
I left Honywood in 2009 and decided to complete a National Diploma in music at the Colchester Institute, I then continued with my studies at the Institute and managed to achieve a first in my BA (hons) degree in music. I then began work as a private and peripatetic music teacher, working within Colchester Royal Grammar School and Colchester County High School for Girls, before deciding to further my musical study by working towards my Masters degree in music, of which I have just completed and I will be graduating next March.
The passion that my teachers demonstrated throughout my time at Honywood school inspired me to want to feel this same excitement about my future career and also allowed me to gain the confidence to be able to reach any goal that I set for myself. I particularly thank the music department for their enthusiasm for the subject and I hope that I can now inspire the next generation of musicians within my own career.
School days are the best of your life’. I remember everyone telling me this and my only reaction was the instant eye roll, however I’ve reached that age where looking back at Honywood it can be honestly summed up as such. My GCSE’s for me, was a hard period of time, but the teachers at Honywood catered for this, all taking their time with each individual. We were not just numbers in a graph to Honywood but personalities that with their help could achieve their best.
These experiences have had such a positive effect on me that I’ve had the confidence to be in my third year of University 5 counties away in York. From Honywood I moved onto A-levels, with the commitment I learnt at school I managed to get an A* in my chosen subject to study further at University, this was Sociology. Now in my final year I’ve applied for a PGCE, (Post Graduate Certificate of Education). This will allow me to start teaching as a career in 2 years time! I can honestly say that this is directly influenced by my time in education, I would not of received the GCSE’s I did without the teachers I had at Honywood School. I would also like have the same to be a positive impact like this in someone’s life.
Sophie Shelley (né Partridge)
Sophie Shelley (né Partridge)
Looking back at my time at Honywood School it was one of the best times of my life. As a learner you do not realise when you are there but time certainly changes your perspective. I became a member of the School Council in cohort 9 and later became Honywood Schools first Lead Learner (Head Girl at the time). I learnt some valuable skills from both experiences and became confident in my own abilities. Honywood School was, and still is, an excellent place to learn. The teachers encourage you and ensure you are succeeding and helped me with every step. Since School, I went on to study my A-Levels at Colchester Sixth Form and received a place at Cambridge Anglia Ruskin to study my Law degree, achieving upper second class honours. I continued my studies for my Legal Practice Course and secured a Training Contract. I am now a qualified Solicitor practising at Ellisons Solicitors. I believe the support from Honywood and Simon Mason at such an early stage in my life gave me the ambition to achieve in whatever path I chose.
I left Honywood School in 2008. I attended Colchester Sixth Form College for 2 years then went on to study History at the University of York. Following my graduation in 2013, I worked as a waitress and shift manager in a local restaurant in Coggeshall for 9 months as I was undecided about what my next steps were. I then moved to London to start a visitor facing summer job with the Royal Collection Trust.
My summer role became a permanent one, which then became a supervisor role, and after 2-and-a-half-years, I then left Buckingham Palace to join the visitor experience management team in project managing the opening of the new Design Museum in Kensington, West London. I have now been there for a year and have enjoyed the opportunities that this has given me. What has been really important to me is that I enjoy waking up every morning going to a job where I have fun and am surrounded by a fantastic bunch of supportive colleagues and friends.
Following my five years at Honywood secondary school, I have pursued a career in the football industry. To do this, I spent two years at Hedingham Sixth Form completing a BTEC Level Three in Sports, Development, Coaching and Fitness. It was my intention to continue my education after college as prestigious positions in football require a university degree. I chose to attend Solent Southampton University completing the BA Hons degree in Football Studies, which I highly recommend to anyone looking to develop a career in football.
Since leaving university I have had the privilege of being able to work for football clubs such as: Arsenal, Eastleigh, Barnet, Stevenage and Cambridge United. I must reiterate and signify the importance of pursuing your own career goals. From my very first day at Honywood, I was absolutely obsessed with football and many of my former teachers could tell you so! Never allow anyone to come in-between your vision or goal of a future career, if you work to the best of your ability then it will eventually fall into place for you.
Update: June 2018, Stepney was offered a role at West Ham as a Recruitment Analyst. Finally made it to a Premier League club!
After Honywood, my A Levels included Government and Politics and Film Studies, and then I studied Film and Media Production at Sheffield Hallam University. It was a very practical course, and I was lucky enough to produce real short films screened at the cinema, but after I left, I knew I wanted to do more in the news industry.
I started by producing short films for a charity, which also gave me experience in events, public affairs (working with politicians) and public relations (working with the media). It was here that I met a publicist who took me on in my first PR agency. I’ve since turned my hand to all kinds of PR, including celebrity, beauty, tech, music and the energy industry. I found my real passion in personal finance, and now I run the press office for MoneySavingExpert.com, the website founded by consumer champion Martin Lewis.
Day-to-day, I work with journalists – in TV, radio and print – to make noise about our investigations, to get the public backing our campaigns, and to make sure that every consumer, even if they don’t use MSE, knows what their rights are and takes action to save as much money as possible.
The best advice I can give to any school leavers wanting to get into PR is to know everyone. Network, go to events, volunteer your time to help with projects. Be available, be on the ball and people will remember you.
After I had finished school in 2016, I already had my apprenticeship lined as a Sales Apprentice at Lookers Land Rover. I’ve been here since. I didn’t want to go to college or want to go to university so I had always wanted an apprenticeship, however I couldn’t think of the right one for me or find one. For my work experience I had to find something to do and considering I like cars I just took a long shot and rang Land Rover in Colchester and they accepted me for the week. Whilst I was there they said to me they were impressed and actually offered an apprenticeship to me. I accepted and I’m still here making money and having a laugh. I think Honywood helped me develop to understand people and have confidence with anything I do. I don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for all the advice and help I had at school.
Since leaving Honywood five years ago, I have accomplished many academic achievements. I studied my A Levels at Colchester Sixth Form and earned grades I am proud of in English Literature and Language, Sociology and Media Studies, as well as in my EPQ. In July 2018, I graduated from the University of Essex with a degree in English and American Literature. My three years at university were challenging but enjoyable and I am extremely proud of everything I have achieved — particularly writing my 10,000 word dissertation!
College: Colchester Sixth Form College
University: Loughborough University – Management Sciences BSc
Graduate Job: Accenture – Technology Consultant // Russ International – Co-Founder
Upon completing five years’ at Honywood, I went on to Colchester Sixth Form College to study A Levels in Business, Politics, English, World Development and Citizenship (alongside AS Level Law). My grades at Honywood were what many would consider to be relatively average (primarily a mix of ‘B’ and ‘C’ grades), however I went on to achieve A*-Bs in each of my A Levels – although this obviously took a lot of hard work and dedication!
After Sixth Form, I made the decision to take a year out, spending my time between working in a restaurant and travelling. I was able to travel for more than 7 months’, despite having no money saved prior to finishing Sixth Form, visiting countries from India through to the Philippines. During this year, I also started the process of registering a charity in the UK (Russ International), to work alongside an Indian charity that I first became involved in whilst at Sixth Form (Russ Foundation). We work in; health, education, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and ecology, and I am proud to say that our charity now reaches annual revenues of more than GBP 25,000, two years after registering!
Whilst my ‘Gap Year’ was an incredible period for me, the following 4 years at Loughborough University undoubtedly topped this. My time at Loughborough concluded with a ‘First Class with Honours’ degree in Management Sciences BSc, alongside winning various awards such as ‘Enterprising Student of the Year’ in my final year. Through Russ International, I have also now brought 35 students to India on volunteering expeditions, a legacy that I envisage to continue at the University for years’ to come.
Placement and Graduation
As my degree was a ‘sandwich course’, my third year at the University was spent on an industrial placement, whereby I worked for Accenture – a global technology consulting firm. Here, I was privileged to work alongside major organisations in both the public and private sector, working on technology transformation projects.
My time on placement also resulted in a Graduate offer, which I gladly accepted and will be starting in January 2019. As a Consultant, I have the opportunity to work in a diverse range of industries and organisations, whether that be a police force, bank, consumer electronics company or something completely different.
Prior to starting my Graduate role, I chose to spend a further 5 months’ travelling (using money saved during my placement), bringing my total number of travelled countries to 25, from North Korea through to Nicaragua (alongside no fewer than 17 trips to India over a 5 year period).
Advice and Tips
Take every opportunity you get and grab them with both hands! You might turn out to not enjoy something, but don’t regret it; you might just surprise yourself. Many of my teachers’ at Honywood have made a truly lasting impact on my life; even today, I think about certain messages that I was given by teachers’ and they continue to drive me to work hard and be the best that I can be. They want you to succeed; listen to them, learn from them and be inspired by them – you won’t be studying at school again!
Leaving school may, for many, be a daunting period; but some of your best years’ can be just around the corner if you make the right decisions and follow your dreams. Finally, as students’ and Alumni of Honywood, we are in a privileged position; use your privilege and make a positive impact on the world – whether that’s helping someone with a simple task, or impacting thousands’ of lives – you can make the world a better place for others.