HITZ Award winner Aidan Seal proves school isn’t the only place to learn
For many young people school is a great place to learn, but not everyone thrives at the same time in life and Aidan Seal is proof there is another way.
Aidan, who picked up the Academic Achiever Award at the star-studded HITZ Awards in October, admits to having struggled in school but has been on an inspirational journey since joining Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme.
Prior to joining Exeter Chiefs’ HITZ Aidan had left school, where he suffered greatly from bullying, with no qualifications.
He spent all of his time on his computer, had no friends and his relationship with his family was poor.
Aidan had communication and anger issues and had limited soft skills such as eye contact.
“Before HITZ I was at school, I didn’t like it and I was bullied quite a lot,” he commented.
“I hadn’t been close to my dad so he would always go and watch the football or whatever whereas I would be stuck in my room playing Xbox.
“I went to the careers office and met a guy called Lewis, he got me into HITZ and I’m definitely a lot more confident in terms of talking to people now, it’s eventually brought the confidence out in me.”
HITZ, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, with the help of its funders Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Comic Relief, works with more than 2,000 14-18 year olds across England every year, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional member rugby clubs.
Due to his learning difficulty, reading and writing were a struggle for Aidan but after being on the programme he recognised the importance of hard work and spent many hours on his English and Maths in order to pass his exams. Aidan became more confident and stepped up as a leader of the group, as he went from having no qualifications to achieving a Level 2 in Sport, and Functional Skills in both English and Maths.
Aidan’s social skills drastically improved throughout Exeter’s HITZ programme, his attitude to education and life in general have completely changed. He’s joined both a gym and a rugby club, as well as picking up the Academic Achiever Award.
He added: “I was so surprised to have won because I maybe didn’t have the confidence in myself before, but I’ve been on such a journey since then.
“The lessons on the HITZ programme were good because they were made practical for you, rather than doing things with pen and paper, practically is the only way I learn.
“I struggle when it’s on paper so HITZ was great for me, the tutoring is the best I’ve ever had.”
Using rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, HITZ increases young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the necessary personal, life and employability skills to get back into education, training, apprenticeships and employment.
Aidan is now employed, has passed his driving test and is awaiting his test results to join the Navy.
He is driven, working hard on his fitness and aptitude tests and also hopes to work with HITZ in the future.
Aidan continued: “It’s almost like a small family group (on the programme). Before HITZ I did the Navy exam and I failed, so now, what this has been doing is to improve my exams for when I next do the test again.
“Hopefully next time I do the test I’ll pass!”
The HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, uses rugby’s strong core values to improve life and employability skills for disadvantaged young people, underpinning success in education, life and work. See @HITZrugby for more information.