Learning Stories

Learning has the power to change lives. Our growing collection of learning stories feature a variety of Bristol citizens who explain how learning has made a difference to their lives and the many ways and places they have learnt - through friends, activities, formal education and work.


  1. Featured Learning Stories

  2. Learning Story for April − meet Annabel!
  3. I try to learn something new each year. Some years it’s something significant that I learn to love and continue to enjoy; other years it’s something that keeps my interest for a while but falls by the wayside. For me it doesn’t matter if the thing endures, it’s the act and the excitement of learning new things that I love.
  4. Last year I decided I’d learn about jewellery making. It’s something completely different to what I do in my job and it gave me a creative, hands-on experience that I wanted to try. I thought I’d make a few horrible necklaces and give it up, but this feels like one of the keepers.
  5. I started by buying a few beads, bits and chains. Then I started to look at some websites to learn some new techniques.
  6. I showed some friends some of the pieces I’d made and they all asked me if I’d do another for them or as presents for others.
  7. I started experimenting with other techniques; shaping metal, soldering, leather craft. Then I started talking to other people via social media and the internet and learnt loads more. I got inspiration from books and magazines. My Amazon and Ebay bill started to increase, as I bought materials to make new items, but I also sold most of what I made so I broke even or made a bit most of the time.
  8. I’ve learnt about marketing, about paint finishes and about rust. I learnt about tools and health and safety (mostly as a practical consequence of using the tools improperly!). I’ve learnt about Pinterest and other social media sites and I’ve learnt that lots of my friends have equally creative hobbies.
  9. This year I’m considering signing up for some formal classes, but until now I’ve learnt enough to make a few hundred pounds, met some really interesting people, made new friends and had countless hours of enjoyment – all from free websites, a couple of magazines and a whim that I like to learn something different each year.
  10. Learning Story for March − meet Mark!
  11. Learning a new skill as an adult can be a great challenge, especially when balancing life with a young family and a job. In 2013, I made the big decision to study for my diploma in shopping centre management.
  12. At the time I was a retail analyst at St David’s Shopping Centre in Cardiff, Wales. As a thirty-six year old dad, the thought of studying for the next two years was an extremely daunting prospect, but one that I needed to take on for our future.
  13. A large part of my studies was on the job learning. Throughout your life sometimes you meet people who act as mentors, pushing you out of your comfort zones; my previous manager was one of these people, and I am very thankful that he pushed me to complete the course. As you would expect the diploma covered all aspects of shopping centre management: marketing, managing people and retail. I gained a lot of new skills, especially when managing people.
  14. One of the best learning’s I took away from the diploma was how important it is to step back and take a look at how you come across to people when leading individuals and teams. My greatest learning from the course was how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to be a better person.
  15. Whilst studying for my diploma, I started to write stories for my three year old son, Otis. I have always enjoyed writing, but never thought to take it on as a career. After sharing the stories in blog form with friends and family, I quickly realised that I had found a passion and after great feedback when reading to school assemblies of 400 children, I decided that I wanted to write children’s stories full time.
  16. I wanted to create stories which the family could all enjoy when the children were older, creating that magic that I experienced as a child when watching films like Mary Poppins and reading books by Roald Dahl. My favourite times with my children are at bedtime when we are reading stories together and the thought of parents reading my stories to their own children is so lovely. So I took that scary leap of faith. It was one of the biggest career decisions I have ever had to make, but it felt right. I had my wife’s backing and support, which was the most important thing.
  17. To read Mark's entire Learning Story, please visit our website:

  18. Learning Story for February - meet Gianna!
  19. I’ve always wanted a job that would allow me to spend as much time as possible with my children, so what’s better than working in a school? Coming from a very different schooling system (I’m Italian), I started ‘slowly’ as a lunchtime assistant, as I thought English schools would be too different to throw myself head on into teaching.
  20. Little did I know that I would become so involved in my school’s extra curricular activities, I would forget all about teaching for four years! What did it for me was the Eco-Schools project.
  21. I started as a member of our school’s Eco Team, leading a couple of projects which had a close connection with the lunch hour (Healthy Eating Week and Living Streets Walk to School), and when our Eco Coordinator left, I took over (reluctantly at first) the whole Eco-Schools thing.