Inspiring educational change with Sam Taylor, creative director of

Inspiring educational change with Sam Taylor, creative director of
September 8th, 2021 | 3 minute read

Hey! It's Sam Taylor here, co-founder and creative director at! Here's a little story about how I got here...

I have the memory of a goldfish. Those close to me know that, and my clients and colleagues always see my filling notebooks full of thoughts and conversations.

At sixth form, I spectacularly failed my exams - but managed to ace all my coursework. Being able to recall information off the top of my head isn't my strong suit, but being able to work methodically through problems with the resources I require to hand, I can really get going.

My failure at sixth form was a very rocky patch for me and put my confidence at rock bottom, however, it lead me to do a BTEC in Graphic design at Burton and South Derbyshire College. My BTEC was an amazing time. It was exam free and all coursework based, which meant I could really focus on expanding my skills and knowledge, rather than trying to recall information. I achieved great results at the end of the course and it put me back on the right path to achieve my goal of starting a design studio.The next hurdle was going to university. When I applied to university I was set on attending the University of Leeds - but unfortunately, they only accepted A Levels! 🙃🙃

This didn't sit right with me. I didn't understand why my style of learning wasn't accepted. So I ignored the enrolment criteria, trusted my work and sent them an application with my portfolio and fortunately they accepted me. I then went 4 years without really telling people I'd done a BTEC, and when people discussed what A Level subjects they took, I just stayed quiet.

Fast forward 6 years ⏩⏩⏩

I've graduated. I run a growing design studio with my course mate Matt Wheeler. But here's one of the things I've just done which has filled me with pride...

I've worked with the University of Leeds alumni department on an online course to help introduce BTEC students into higher education in Leeds. I'm featured amongst other BTEC students in telling my university story. What's even better?

I requested I'd only get involved if the Design School accept BTEC qualifications so that people like me feel welcomed, and more importantly can succeed at the university. This has now been confirmed! 🎉🎉🎉

The university have shown me great support, especially the Spark team (Kairen, Brian Baillie & Co.) and I can't thank them enough. It's a pleasure to still be working alongside the university to create real change and help ensure everyone feels like they belong there.

Exams aren't for everyone. People learn in different ways and always support people in the way they need to learn. ✌️

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