Clive looks to the future and encourages aspiring teachers to get qualified

Date: Wednesday 16th August, 2023

A former offender who left school with no qualifications has graduated university with a first-class degree and has just accepted a job as a Lecturer.  

Clive Ray from Wrexham had previously achieved a first class degree in International Tourism and Hospitality Management at Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham University, before going on to complete his Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PCET) at the university, after students and peers encouraged him to do so, due to his “knowledge, personable nature and ability to break down complex information so that it’s understood by others”. 

The 51-year-old is now about to embark on a Masters and has just been appointed as a sessional Lecturer at the university.

In 2014 Clive was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He reflects on that time as an ‘extremely difficult period’ having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression after being the subject of a brutal attack a couple of years earlier. 

It was while in prison that Clive discovered a love of teaching and supporting others who were overcoming adversity, as he started leading on a birds of prey therapy programme aimed at inmates suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues.  

On leaving prison, Clive started working with CAIS – a Wrexham-based organisation, which supports people who have problems with addiction and their mental health. However, once funding for his project ceased, he questioned his next steps.  

He said: “Once my work with CAIS finished, I was at a bit of crossroads and felt nervous about my future. At the time, I was a man in my 40s with no qualifications and a criminal record. In my head, I could still hear the voices of teachers from my schooldays telling me that I’d never amount to anything. It was a hard time. 

“However, I decided to call Wrexham University to find out whether I could gain a qualification in Spanish as I had some grasp of the language and wanted to develop that further but at the time, the only course available was beginners’ proficiency, which wasn’t suitable for me. 

“Thankfully the person who took the call that day asked me what else I was interested in or had some experience of. I told them about my hospitality experience, and it was from then, that I was encouraged to do my degree in Hospitality. I explained my apprehension but I was reassured that I was capable and that I’d be well supported by the university’s Inclusion team.” 

Once confirming he would enrol onto the degree, Clive recalls his “first day nerves”. 

He said: “I’ve run businesses, I’ve been to prison but my first day of university was by far, the scariest day of my life. I was petrified and almost didn’t turn up. 

“I had an argument with myself in the car on the way in but I forced myself to go in, and I’m glad I did. When I arrived, I was made to feel extremely welcome but also capable of achievement. My Lecturer, Holly was amazing – as was the Inclusion team.” 

After graduating with first class honours, Clive was encouraged by Lecturers to consider a career in teaching. 

“Both Lecturers and peers alike told me that I’d be a great Teacher or Lecturer, in their words, due to my knowledge, personable nature and ability to break down complex information so that it’s understood by other people. That made me feel good and gave me the confidence to complete my PCET,” he said. 

“I now do some sessional lecturing at the university and honestly, I can’t put into words, the confidence university has given me. It’s broken down so many barriers for me and I’m now incredibly excited for what the future holds. 

“I would encourage anyone thinking about a career change into teaching to just do it, it’s an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable career and at the university, you can study part-time while working, so you’re still able to balance your current lifestyle around the course.”

Helena Eaton, Director of Admissions at Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham University, said: “A huge congratulations to Clive, who has overcome a great deal of adversity and gone on to achieve great things, and begin to carve out a successful career in Education.

“At Prifysgol Wrecsam/Wrexham University, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive and welcoming environment for students. We know that people with previous convictions often face stigma and barriers, even long after they’ve served their sentence.  

“Clive has demonstrated that people with past convictions can make meaningful and positive contributions to society. We’re proud of what he has achieved and the impact he is making to our university community.” 

On Monday 21 August between 5pm – 6.30pm, the Education team at Wrexham University are running an event aimed at those thinking of becoming a qualified Teacher in post-compulsory education, focussing on the Professional Certificate in Education (PGCE) qualification.  

Those interesting in a career in teaching in this area, will have the opportunity to find out more, through a series of short talks and an interactive question and answer session, with experienced adult education practitioners and recent PCET graduates.  

Clive will be giving a talk at the event, sharing his experience in a bid to inspire prospective teachers. More information about the event can be found here.