Learning Stories

We know that learning has the power to change lives.

Our learning stories feature Bristol citizens who share how learning has made a difference to their lives and the many ways and places that they have learnt – through friends, activities, formal education and work.

We want to gather as many learning stories as possible from across the city and we would like to hear from you! Click here to submit your learning story.

Featured Learning Stories

Dominika’s Learning Story

Dominika's Learning Story

I am an A-level student currently studying Geography, Sociology and Business. I have a huge passion for geography and especially sustainability; however there aren’t many activities outside the curriculum that involve the subject.

When I learnt about Catalyst Bootcamp, a three day residential programme in Bristol that supports young women to be change-makers for green careers and the planet, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to sign up! I wanted to learn about different career paths that can be taken to enforce sustainability, whilst being able to improve my confidence.

I was positively surprised by the Catalyst Boot camp, everything was better than I expected and my expectations were already really high. Everyone was friendly and each guest speaker was an interesting individual who talked to us about their sustainable experiences. Getting to share our own sustainability ideas and understanding of the world was something that I really liked about the programme, as well as the confidence building sessions.

Since the bootcamp, I have become more concerned about learning people’s opinions and looking at things from different perspectives. However, the biggest change is that I try to think of a sustainable solution in every situation – be it pollution around a school or traffic around a town.

I have become more organised and calm about my future. Also I know how to deal with stress and anxiety due to the motivational sessions and I’m not afraid to speak up. I have also been able to consider many different options and career paths – I have become really interested in taking a gap year after hearing people talk about their experience of traveling. However, I also liked how the guest speakers would describe their way to success, showing that going to university is not the only choice if you’re not that interested in it; but in the end, it still made me more eager to go.

If you are interested in sustainability and want to learn more about it, the bootcamp is the best way to do it and you get to meet many amazing people.

Catalyse Change CIC held their first Catalyst Bootcamp at the University of Bristol in August 2017. The programme was a mix of sustainability speakers, mentors and personal development tools. Bursaries were offered to a number of participants, including Dominika whose bursary was funded by Pukka Teas. 
Next year’s Catalyst Bootcamp will be held at the University of Bristol on 1-3 August 2018. Find out more: catalyschange.com.

Roger’s Learning Story

Roger's Learning Story

As a young boy growing up in west Cornwall, I was an avid follower of sport on the radio and the early days of Saturday Grandstand on black and white TV.

The opportunities to watch top-level sport live were limited and my contact was limited to listening, viewing and writing off for autographs and match programmes as well as collecting sports books.

I often fell into a fantasy world of commentating on major sporting events and living imaginary moments as a top sports journalist, including test matches and Olympic Games.

There was little encouragement to lead my career path in that direction and my career went in other ways.

Imagine my delight when, in my fifties, I was given the opportunity to be the emergency stand-in announcer at Clifton Rugby Club through someone not turning up.

The role quickly became permanent and one day at a match in Cornwall I was invited to commentate on matches for BBC Radio Cornwall when their teams played in the Bristol area. At last a childhood dream had become a reality, a few decades on!

The commentating led to writing match reports and producing press releases for both national and regional papers. This also led me to being invited to be the ‘microphone man’ at other non-sporting events.

Learning new skills and enjoying different experiences has been great fun and it shows that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how old you are.

Talise’s Learning Story

Talise Learning Story

My name is Talise and I’m 10 years old from Victoria Park Primary School in Bristol.

I have been learning how to play chess every Thursday in my class for the last year. It wasn’t at an after-school club – everybody had to learn just like literacy or maths. Before I started playing chess I thought it would be really difficult, but my class was taught by very experienced chess teachers and so once I started playing I found it really fun.

I enjoy playing chess because I like playing against my friends and also getting the opportunity to compete in tournaments. Recently I got to go to City Hall to represent my school at chess. There were two boys and two girls in my team – chess is fun that way because girls play against boys, and older children play against younger children. It doesn’t matter if you’re older or younger, because it’s a brain game not a physical sport.

Learning how to play chess has given me confidence with maths; because it’s such a complex game you have to think about lots of different things at once, work out what the next move could be and be determined not to give up. Very often when you’re solving problems in maths you won’t get it right the first time, but in chess when you lose a game you learn from it because you pick up winning strategies from your opponent. I now try to learn from my mistakes in other things too, like maths, and if I don’t get the right solution the first time I try to see where I went wrong and I try again.

Chess has also taught me how to be respectful; at the start and end of each game you have to make sure you shake hands with your component. I’ve also had to learn how to cooperate in a team, because when we compete in tournaments we have to play in a group together.

I have now taught my mum and brother at home how to play chess too, as they didn’t know how to before. We all find it really fun and we’re always playing together.

Pip’s Learning Story

Pip's Learning Story

I am an intern on a supported internship called Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH is all about learning skills to find paid work whilst working in three different placements, with support from a tutor and a job coach.

Project SEARCH is a big change from going to college, as our classroom is in a council building and we go out to our work placements every day!

My most recent placement was with the Performance and Customer Engagement team in Citizen Services at Bristol City Council. My mentor and team were very friendly and supportive, which helped me to learn a lot. Just a few of the things I have learnt about are customer service, using Microsoft Excel and managing my own workload.

Some things have been easy for me to pick up, like communicating with my colleagues. Other things, like data entry, have been more difficult, but I have always stuck at it and have felt very proud when I have learnt new skills.

I would really recommend this work placement to other Project SEARCH interns – it was wonderful!

At the end of each day, I go back to the classroom with all of the other interns and we write diaries and talk about what we have been doing at work. This means we also get to learn things from other people’s experiences, as well as on our own placements.

Most of all my work experience placements on Project SEARCH have taught me a lot about working life, and have made me feel much more confident about going out into the world of work!


View our entire collection of learning stories on Storify:


How will sharing stories encourage people to learn in Bristol?

Sharing stories promotes understanding and brings people together.

In a neuroscience study, led by Uri Hasson in Princeton, a woman told a story to a group of listeners while their brains were monitored by MRI scans.  The results showed that the listeners experienced the exact same brain patterns as the storyteller.  The listeners developed empathy for the storyteller, because they were experiencing the story in the same way as the teller.

This means that when you tell a story to a friend, you can transfer your experiences, ideas, thoughts and emotions to them.  They feel what you feel.  What’s more, as you relate to someone’s desires through a story, they become your desires.

Sharing a learning story can bring a powerful force of change to those listening, encouraging them to go onto learn something new for themselves.

Share Your Learning Story!

We want to gather as many learning stories as possible from across the city and we would like to hear from you.

Your story might be based on an experience that made a difference to your life, it might be about one thing you learnt that set you on a specific course, or it might tell the story of your learning journey and demonstrate how what you learnt has impacted on your life.

Everyone’s learning story is important to us, so please help us by sending in your learning story below.

For ideas of how to create your learning story please download our top tips:


Submit Your Learning Story

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Your Learning Story*

We review all submissions carefully and we will get in touch if we’re able to publish your learning story.

If you have told your learning story in a different way such as by film, music or pictures please upload it onto our Facebook page or alternatively email it to: learning.city@bristol.gov.uk