International Women’s Day: A conversation with Jules Wells, inspiring Access tutor at Keighley College

8 March 2023

Share this story

For International Women’s Day 2023, we spoke to Jules Wells – an Access to HE Tutor at Keighley College who won the Keighley Principal’s Award at the Luminate Group Awards in January.

When presenting Jules with the award, Kev O’Hare, Principal of Keighley College, said the following:

“Jules is an inspirational science teacher who has established our Access courses at Keighley. Learners achieve and achieve well. External Quality Assurance reports are excellent and because of the hard work and robust quality approaches that Jules has embedded, all learners are guaranteed a purposeful, enriched, and supportive learning journey and experience.

“Jules inspires the future healthcare workers into various high education degrees. She is also recognised here as someone who thinks outside her area and embodies the values of Keighley College in contributing ideas and participation in wider college life.”

Following her award win, we got in touch with Jules to hear about her Access to HE journey.

Can you tell us a bit about your career in education so far?

My journey started in 2013. I had been working in retail for a large company, starting off part time as a customer service consultant before working my way up to become a manager.

Then 2013 came around. My children were growing up and didn’t need me quite as much, so I considered that it was time to make a change and move on to something that I wanted to do. Retail was just something I had fallen into.

I joined the Access to HE (Health Science Professions)  course here at Keighley College with a view to applying to university to do midwifery. I wasn’t successful in that first year and thought I would be but devastated but actually I wasn’t. So, I started to think whether that was really what I wanted to do.

Throughout the Access course, I’d thoroughly enjoyed the human biology side of it and decided to take that further. So, I looked into doing a biomedical sciences degree. I went to Leeds City College, within the Luminate Education Group, to do my degree. I got a First-Class Honours Degree, which I was absolutely thrilled about, one of the proudest moments of my life.

I then thought I might use this in teaching – teaching other people the things I’d learned. Rather than rushing into this, I got myself a job in a secondary school working as a science technician, so I got a bit of a feel for educational establishments – what they’re all about and whether I would want to work in one. I could see the life of a teacher and what they get up to.

I also went back to Leeds City College and supported my old degree programme for six months. I was helping students who were falling behind a little bit or didn’t have the best attendance, so it was a mentor position really. I really enjoyed this, so I then decided to bite the bullet and go and do a teaching qualification.

I went to Leeds Trinity University to do my PGCE – I did this as a science teacher with biology as my specialism. I passed my PGCE and went on to do a teaching role as a science teacher in a local secondary school. I did really enjoy that, I loved the kids, loved the teaching, but I realised that teaching that age group wasn’t the right choice for me.

Then a position came up at Keighley College, which was the course leader position for the Access course that I’d done back in 2013, so I thought it was worth a try. I gave it a shot and here I am – I’m the course leader for the course I did myself and I’m helping other adults from the Keighley area to make a change, think about their career, and move forward to university.

I now teach the Access to HE Diploma (Social Work) as well as the Health Science Professions Diploma.

What do you enjoy about working in Access to HE?

I really, really enjoy my job. The best bit for me is seeing the learners grow in knowledge and confidence over such a short period of time. It’s lovely to see the students grow so much and then go off to university after a year with us.

Do you have any favourite learner success stories?

I have so many, but I could go on forever. Each learner comes with their own story, and they all achieve so much. There are two that stand out.

After working as a support worker for several years, Jodie realised she had a passion for making a positive change to people’s lives and supporting individuals with mental health difficulties. So, she embarked on a new journey at Keighley College, enrolling on the Social Work Diploma to pursue a career in this field. You can read her story here.

Keighley-based couple, Laura and Chris Smith, have always had an ambition to work in healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic gave them time to reflect on their career aspirations, and led them to pursue their passions through the Health Science Professions course. You can read more about them here.

How do you find working with Skills and Education Group Access and delivering our Diplomas?

I enjoy working with Skills and Education Group Access as I find the team approachable and very keen to resolve any questions or issues that we may have. The support with training sessions is also very good. My experiences with external moderators have always been good – they are very knowledgeable and first and final visits are well organised.

We want to hear about inspiring Access to HE tutors and students

We are always keen to hear success stories about learners and tutors at our Access Providers. You can submit stories using our Provider or Learner case study forms, or email us at

Become an Access to HE Provider

Keighley College is part of the Luminate Education Group, a Skills and Education Group Access Provider. You can find out how to become a Provider and browse all our Access to HE Diplomas.

Find out about becoming a member of Skills and Education Group.

Join today!