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What it’s like studying for your ACCA qualification at Reed Business School

As we welcome many new students to The Manor Isobel Rushmere, Junior Accountant at Shaw Gibbs, and one of our ACCA Student Rep’s, has kindly written a great article on what it is like to be a student starting here and what to expect.

Get in touch with us if you would like to start your accounting qualification with us!


Studying to achieve an accounting qualification can seem daunting at first. You might not feel as prepared as you think you should be or might be unsure of what to expect before coming to Reed to study. However, Reed offers both a supportive and accommodating environment as well as helpful resources for making your study experience as smooth and fulfilling as possible.

Here are a few things you can expect when studying at Reed Business School:


You can study all three levels of the ACCA qualification at Reed; the Applied Knowledge, Applied Skills, and Strategic Professional stages, and you will usually sit each module over a couple of months in blocks of 2 to 3 days at a time (for some modules this includes revision days or weeks as well as studying the core content).

If you study at Reed in person, you’ll be able to receive the workbook, study guide, and exam kit upon arrival or will have been sent them in the post if studying remotely. These are key for learning and revising the course content, and you will be using them in class as you move through each chapter.

Classes start at 9am and the day usually ends between 4.30 and 5pm, with about an hour for lunch starting around 12:30 to 1pm, and with a couple of short breaks in the morning and afternoon. The room you’ll be in will be shown on the main noticeboard.


Courses are designed to get you exam-ready and as mentioned include designated revision days or weeks depending on the module you’re taking, meaning that you can comfortably learn the content as well as recapping areas you may be less confident in, and getting valuable exam question practice. It’s also likely that you will be able to sit a mock exam in class, which is really helpful in giving an indication as to the areas you need to work on when it comes to studying at home.

You can sit the three Applied Knowledge papers; Financial Reporting (FA), Management Accounting (MA) and Business and Technology (BT), and the Applied Skills Paper: Corporate and Business Law (LW), at Reed on the exam dates included on the Reed website (these are usually held at 10am). These are computer-based exams and are multiple choice papers lasting 2 hours (and unlike the other papers these are marked electronically, and you will receive your exam result instantly). To sit any of these exams at Reed you’ll need to submit an exam form that can be found on the Reed website, at least seven working days before the exam date.

There are plenty of resources available in terms of exam practice. Tutors will make resources available on teams including notes they’ve been making on the board throughout the module and may also include assignments to complete which will be composed of questions for each chapter of the study guide. If you find that you’re struggling with a particular part of the course or would like help understanding a specific practice question, then you can talk to or message your tutor on Microsoft Teams who can then help.

There are also external resources available to help with studying for exams. On the inside cover of your Kaplan study guide there will be a code to use on their website which will give you access to various study resources, and you can also purchase practice computer exams on the ACCA website, which can better prepare you in terms of time-management, and get you more familiar with exam-style questions.

Food, Accommodation and Reed Business School itself

If you have quite a long journey to and from Reed, then there’s always the option to stay overnight! Reed provides shared, single, and premium rooms, and the accommodation is close to the business school. If you’re staying overnight, then you can also get breakfast at Reed in the morning from 7:45am and dinner in the evening from 5:30pm. [You can opt into accommodation via the accommodation registration form and can also see the website/email reception for more information].

One thing that people hear a great deal about Reed is how great the food is. There are a wide variety of homecooked meals to look forward to, including options for those with dietary requirements, and menus for the week can be found on the tables in the dining hall. Lunch is provided for everyone studying at Reed during the day.

While you’re at Reed we highly recommend that you make the most of the grounds. Not only are there amazing gardens to walk through but there’s also a field of deer, a flock of sheep and tennis courts. You can collect tennis racquets and balls from the manor, as well as badminton and croquet equipment, if you fancy a game at lunch or after class.

Support Available

Finally, make sure to use all the support available as needed! Ask your tutors for help with the course if you need it and make the most of the other study resources mentioned above. There’s also a friendly team in reception to go to if you have any questions or concerns about studying, accommodation, or anything to do with your wellbeing while at Reed.

If you have any questions or feedback on the teaching or about Reed more generally, or if there’s anything you think could be improved, then feel free to contact the Student Representatives!

How an accountancy apprenticeship can work for you and your employer.?

We caught up with Cameron York, Accounts Assistant/Audit Junior at Warwickshire based firm MCA business Ltd, and his manager James Pickering. Cameron is currently undertaking his AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting at Reed Business School.

When finishing school, Cameron initially considered going to university to study for an architecture degree, but following some further research, he decided that pathway wasn’t for him. After undertaking some informal work experience with his accountant mother, which he enjoyed, he started looking into accountancy apprenticeship opportunities so he could learn and earn at the same time. And that’s when he came across MCA.

Having applied for and secured his apprenticeship position, Cameron began his Level 2 AAT qualification at Warwick College, but switched to Reed Business School for his Level 3.

“I didn’t want to have to wait until the next year to start my Level 3 in Warwick. And as my manager (James) and various other colleagues trained at Reed Business School, it made sense to go there instead. The environment and small class sizes suit me, and you get really good attention from the teachers, who are also very knowledgeable and helpful. I’ll definitely look to continue my studies there.”

Mindful Education

Reed Business School uses a blended learning approach for the majority of courses, with our Mindful Education platform at its heart. It hosts all relevant resources, and allows for interaction between staff and students. Cameron is a big fan so far:

“I like that it’s clear and visual with a lot of diagrams, not just big chunks of words. I’m a visual learner so that works great for me. There are lots of different resources – each week there’s the basics you have to learn, then essential practice, a mini exam about that section, plus optional practice. You can also watch recordings from lectures and bite-size videos to learn and review at your own pace.”

Professional Development

Cameron believes studying alongside his work has really aided his professional development and the type of work he gets to do, and he’s very pleased with his progress so far:

When I first started, I wouldn’t really communicate with clients at all, but now I have my own group, and recently I have been taking part in audit stock takes on the clients’ premises too. Soon I’ll be able to go out on meetings alone with them.” 

Cameron also really likes how what he studies in the classroom aids his understanding of his work:

“My accounts work has improved massively, and the two go hand in hand. The course makes much more sense when you have exposure to it at work and can practice what you learn.”

As an employer, MCA believes in supporting the development of its apprentices based on their individual needs and interests. James says:

“I make sure I catch up with them all regularly, and together we map out individual pathways based on their progress, preferences and strengths. We work alongside Reed Business School’s apprenticeship work coach to ensure they develop relevant business skills and behaviours in addition to their technical knowledge. The more confident they get, the more confidence I have in them to take on more senior work.”

Why apprentices?

Compared with a university education, after three years of an apprenticeship you’ll not only have that bank of solid work experience behind you, but also be well on your way to becoming a qualified accountant.

MCA made the decision a few years ago to exclusively hire its trainees via apprenticeships, as the calibre of candidates was comparable to graduates, while their starting salaries were lower – making sounder business sense to them. James says:

“Our approach aims to help the firm grow with new talent, as we can train apprentices in the way we like to do things. Within accountancy work, there are different levels of difficulty, so apprentices can do lower level jobs, and as they progress they can take on more complex tasks.”

Could an apprenticeship be for you?

James tells us what he and (and MCA) look for in the new apprentice accountants they recruit:

“Firstly, they have to have a bit of personality and be easy to talk to. A big part of accountancy is the client interaction, so one of the main things I look for is whether I’d trust that person to represent us well with our clients.

“We also look for people who know a bit about accountancy, what they want to do and why they want to do it. It’s quite a demanding journey so you need to be coming into it with your eyes open about what to expect from your training.”

Key advice

Apprentices are still a relatively new way into accountancy, and James notes that it’s absolutely time to be taking them seriously, while warning that they are hard work:

“When you start your apprenticeship, you might have to do some boring tasks and not understand much of what’s going on. But you need to look at the end goal, keep working through everything as guided, and you’ll end up with a very good career. Trust the process, put in the work, and who knows what you can achieve.”

Cameron agrees, admitting that at the start of his apprenticeship he felt a little out of place:

“It was like I jumped in at the deep end before I really knew how to swim. But you get a lot of support, and if you keep studying and put in the work everything will fall into place. Now I’m really enjoying it.”

and finally a word from our AAT Programme Manager

“MCA are very supportive of their apprentices at levels, and this blended programme suits their needs well. Providing them with the flexibility of learning around their day-to-day work activities. The apprenticeship supports the development of not only their accounting knowledge but also wider skills required by apprentices.” Collette Steadman, AAT Programme Manager at RBS

Would you like to find out more?

Contact us now to start your AAT qualification.

What do you know about the gardens and the gardening team at The Manor?

So what do the gardeners do, except make a lot of cups of tea and hide in the sheds when it rains?  Unfortunately for the team Sir Alec Reed and I love a good project, so there’s never a spare moment to take stock.  Even in the depths of winter we’re cutting the hedges; propagating plants; clearing and replanting borders; pruning the roses; planting spring bulbs; and even such exciting jobs as cleaning and oiling the garden furniture ready for the next year.

Working in a garden requires a fleeting and adaptable mindset – I was once told that it is a gardener’s prerogative to get distracted by something else that needs doing whilst on a way to a task.  The weather and ground conditions rarely follow the weather forecast, and plants have a habit of doing their own thing.  Added to that here we have the animals, which have planned needs such as the lambing, as well as injuries and movements that can throw our plans sideways.

What is so special about these grounds?  I was originally drawn here by the opportunity to move into a head gardener role in this style of garden.  The main part of the garden was laid out in the 1920’s in the Arts and Crafts style.  For me, this era of gardening was the pinnacle of horticulture, where gardens are made up of ‘rooms’, divided by walls and hedges, with each area representing a different form of horticulture.  This gives us plenty of opportunity to have fun with different designs and planting styles!

I’d love to know who designed the layout of the garden, as it represents the height of fashion at the time and the owners of the manor moved in similar circles to Vita Sackville-West.  Thomas Mawson’s The Art and Craft of Garden Making (1912) gives the definitive layout of a garden of rooms that leads west from the house along a continuous vista, much as we have here.  You’ll see a very similar layout if you visit Hidcote Manor Garden, and at a push I’d guess either Norah or Nancy Lindsay, who were very involved with Hidcote, penned the design for our garden.

I could bore you all to tears about the history of the garden and the changes it has seen, as well as some of the amazing people who have lived at The Manor.  We have theories of a possible medieval sunken garden, tales of The Manor being used as a safe-haven during the 17th century interregnum, and one of my favourite stories – during WW2 Fruity Metcalfe used all the hot water to run himself a bath (I think in what is now the BD Room), denying it to the rest of the household including American Army troops who were quartered in The Manor!  Perhaps one foggy winter’s morning I could do a bit of a slide show of the old photos for anyone who’s interested?

We are currently finishing the Thai garden project, as well as some planting works in the upper terraces.  The rock garden has also been cleared, as I’ve decided it would be fun to have a cactus garden, along the lines of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco.  There’s no plan here to reproduce any over-aped styles such as white gardens, but I have Arts and Craft designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Harold Peto in the back of my mind, to make sure the overall feel of the garden is still in keeping.

We love seeing the students enjoying the grounds.  From sitting on the lawns chatting, to having a knock up of croquet, golf, or tennis; it is a wonderful feeling to know that people are enjoying what you work so hard to produce.  We also open for the National Gardens Scheme and a very occasional group visit, where as a team we get to share our horticultural passion with die-hard gardeners.  The change in feedback over the years has been wonderful, and with our continual desire to always make the place better I know it will only continue to improve.  A lot of historic gardens are bogged down by seeking to be in their historic heyday – I feel very strongly that a garden should always be aspiring towards its heyday.

About our team! I started in the gardens here eight years ago, moving from Hidcote Manor Garden, and an historic vegetable garden on a Scottish island before that.  Jess came to Reed Business School in 2018 from Cotswold Garden Flowers in Offenham.  Emily joined the team in 2021, also from Cotswold Garden Flowers, and is currently undertaking an apprenticeship in horticulture.  We’re currently a team member short, so please bear with us if something is still on the to-do pile!

Richard Sutton, Head Gardener

National Garden Scheme click here  Home – National Garden Scheme (ngs.org.uk)

Read about one of our newest CIMA students path to Reed Business School

Charles Farmer is former CEO at The Really Useful Group (RUG). Prior to that he worked at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) for 21 years, most recently as EVP of International Television Productions from 2018-2021. Now he’s embarking on something new – studying towards his CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting at Reed Business School. We caught up with him to find out more about his career pathway to date, and what led him to CIMA.

Charles left school before completing his A-Levels, opting instead to get straight to work. He tried his hand at all sorts of entry-level jobs around London, but it was while working on a sheep and cattle farm in Australia during a year abroad that things started to click into place for him.

“Something about the great outdoors and being thousands of miles away from home gave me a new perspective and the time and space to think about what I wanted to do. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and when I came back to London, I was ready to get stuck in to a new challenge.”

While his first couple of job offers on his return fell through, a call from one of his contacts led him to a temporary Receptionist role at RPTA, where he impressed his colleagues with his positive work ethic. He began to take on more responsibility in different departments, eventually finding himself in the Sales team.

“I helped with a bit of everything, but did well in sales, and soon we were hugely overperforming in some markets given the size of the company. I built up the central and Eastern European markets and was promoted to Sales Manager for the region.”

It wasn’t long before head-hunters came knocking at his door, and with an impressive track record and portfolio of clients, Charles was able to keep stepping up the career ladder at MGM.

But the more senior he roles he took on, the more it became evident that his financial vocabulary wasn’t quite where he wanted it to be, and Charles also wanted to have a more formal schooling in finance and business overall.

Deciding that an MBA might be too much of an undertaking, Charles’s research led him to CIMA, and he was delighted to find such a well-established and highly regarded school so close to him in Oxfordshire, without the need to go to London.

When Charles left the RUG in February this year, and with more time on his hands, he dived straight in to his studies, which he’s really enjoying so far.

“I thought studying towards a CIMA qualification would be a fascinating way to develop myself, but I’ve never really had the time to do it. It’s giving me an insight into the fundamental workings of finance and business, and while I’ve run businesses before and seen all the different areas, finance was the one aspect that always interested me, and now I’m really pleased to get more depth of knowledge in it.”

Charles is a big fan of the set up and structure of the classes, and all the online resources including class recordings that he can go back and revisit when he wants to.

The tutor is incredibly helpful, and it’s fantastic that you can always contact them with any questions. The online documentation and paperwork are all excellent, as is the access to practice papers and questions.”

The classroom environment at Reed Business School means Charles also gets to spend time and share knowledge with those from different industries and experience levels. He finds it interesting to get perspectives on how other industries work, giving him an even more well-rounded learning experience.

Throughout his career, Charles has learned that he succeeds best in a disciplined environment, so completes 1-2 hours of personal study at the same time each day to keep on track.

“I like to learn new things every day, and believe that we should always keep learning no matter how old we are. I’m fascinated by this course, and am really looking forward to the next module, and the one after that. When I go back to work again, the structure of classes on weekends will fit in with my lifestyle, and I’ll have much more confidence in the nitty gritty of numbers to be able to talk with finance teams on their level.”

Are you thinking of starting AAT? Read Mevish’s story …

We caught up with Mevish Naveed, who is currently studying for her Level 2 AAT Accounting qualification, while working in the Business Administration team at Cherwell District Council.

When Mevish finished school at 16, she was unsure about what to do next, and considered both sixth form college and apprenticeship options. While initially opting to go to college, she kept her eyes open for apprenticeship schemes, and soon spotted a business administration opening at her local authority.

“I thought I would give it a go to see if I liked it. I got the job and started working towards my Level 2 qualification in Business Administration. But then Covid hit, and suddenly everything was up in the air again.”

Mevish’s employer continued to support her through this difficult time, and she was able to carry on working and studying, achieving her Level 3 certificate. But as she got more exposure to the finance side of her work, which she enjoyed, Mevish began to consider this as an option and started researching possible courses.

“I looked online and saw that Reed Business School offered AAT courses. It was fairly local to me, and had really good student reviews so I gave them a call. Collette was really helpful and answered all my questions, so it seemed like the perfect choice.”

When Mevish presented the idea to her employer, they couldn’t have been more supportive. Both her direct manager and department director have been very encouraging of her development, giving her all the time she needs to attend classes, and allowing her to spend time with the finance team to get more exposure to that side of the organisation.

Mevish’s experience of her studying at RBS so far has been very positive.

“I think it’s been very straightforward and well organised. The weekly structure of classes gives you time to plan your week to get everything done that you need to.”

Time management is always challenging for those who work full-time while they are studying, and Mevish is quite strict in the time she sets aside, to make she retains some balance in her life. Now she’s passed her first exam and is into more of a routine, she’s more confident of her process.

Mevish is also a fan of the Mindful Education platform, where all the lessons are released and learning resources are stored.

“I really like the videos for each class, then afterwards the essential practice and optional practice resources help solidify the learning for each area. After that, you have a knowledge test, where you can log tickets for your tutor to get extra support on that area, and they can see exactly where you are struggling.”

While much of the early part of the course is delivered via online workshop, Mevish was really impressed by our manor home, and the supportiveness of all the staff.

“We went to The Manor for our first exam. Everyone so nice and welcoming, which really put me at ease. I’m really looking forward to going back!”

Mevish admits that she was very nervous prior to her first exam – especially as it had been years since her last one at school. She put in extra hours of revision, and made sure she asked her tutor for support in the areas she needed it.

“I wasn’t doing as well as I would have liked in the practice papers and mock exam, so I didn’t think I’d do particularly well in the exam. But I managed to pass, which has given me a real boost as I work towards my next one.”

Now she’s passed her first exam, Mevish has her sights set on the next, and then the remainder of her level 2 papers. She knows that an AAT qualification will open a lot of doors for her and she’s excited to see where it will take her.

Are you starting your AAT journey?

We recently caught up with Jitka Evans a mother of two who is currently studying towards her AAT level 2 while working part time for Karndean Design Flooring in their customer finance team.

Jitka grew up in her native Czechia, and having completed school and realising that university study wasn’t for her, she began working in admin’.

After moving to and settling in the UK, Jitka’s admin experience led her into junior accounts roles, before she joined her current employer, Karndean, in their customer finance team. Jitka has been with the Karndean for six years, and is now studying towards her AAT Level 2 bookkeeping qualification.

“I’m really happy with my employer and they’ve been very supportive with me wanting to develop myself though my studies.”

When researching training providers, Jitka knew she wanted to join a college, rather than self-study, so she could get all the necessary support and expertise to help her on her journey. Reed Business School’s locality, well-equipped manor building, and extensive online resources were just what she was looking for.

So far Jitka has been impressed by the structure of the course, with teaching workshops scheduled every two weeks, and further learning materials available on our Mindful Education platform to use in between.

“I really like the videos that I can re-watch in my own time, and having set things to complete each week ahead of the next workshop to be able to participate in it fully. Doing a little and often works perfectly for my lifestyle.”

Time management has been one of the biggest challenges for Jitka, with a job and two small children to consider, but she manages to make it work and still give herself evenings to spend with her family.

“I work part-time in the mornings and look after my children in the afternoons. When I have my workshops, or I need more time for independent study, I arrange extra childcare if my husband can’t help at those times. I try to make time to do everything I need to do during the day so studying doesn’t take over my whole life!”

Reed Business School’s Mindful Education platform not only contains all the relevant learning materials for each unit, but a huge range of practice and mock questions for students to complete in their own time. Following each workshop, students can practice what they’ve learnt straight away, in addition to making the most of additional resources on the AAT website.

“I like how much practicing you can do, and the revision workshop at the end of the course allows you to ask questions about parts you might have been struggling with. You can do as much as you want to, and I did every practice paper available to help me feel ready for the exam.”

Jitka has passed her first Level 2 exam, and plans to enrol onto the Level 3 course next month if all goes well with her second. Longer-term, she hopes to develop within Karndean towards a management accounting role. She is currently able to spend time with that team once a week to learn more about topics such as bank reconciliations and balance sheets, and values this as part of her professional development.

“My colleagues are all really supportive, and many of them have been through similar journeys, so it’s great to know there is a pathway there if I choose it, but I just want to get through my next exam first!”

My ICAEW apprenticeship journey with Dominic O’Sullivan

Next up in our series on accountancy apprentices for NAW23 is Dominic O’Sullivan, trainee accountant at Richardsons.

16-year-old Dominic was very much into economics and finance, and so opting to study Maths and Economics at A-Level was a no-brainer for him. But after receiving disappointing results in his first round of exams, Dominic had to dig deep if he wanted to gain a place at his university of choice.

“Those results were the first proper stumbling block I’d faced in my life. I decided that I had to get my head down and re-take some papers, and thankfully I was able to achieve the results I needed.”

Dominic had an enjoyable three years studying for his Economics degree, but was still struggling to uncover a particularly clear career goal. He definitely hadn’t considered accountancy due to the ‘boring’ reputation it had!

However, it was a placement he did one summer at a pension fund, that opened his eyes into the kind of work he could be doing.

“That placement gave a glimpse of the real world of business and what it would be like to work in an office environment. I had the opportunity to talk to fund managers and graduates of a similar age to me who were on various training pathways that I could research.”

So, research he did, and while he graduated in 2020 into a period of great uncertainty, Dominic was, by this point, certain that ACA training was the path for him. He discovered trainee opportunities at local firm Richardsons, and knew straight away it was the right fit for him.

As a graduate, Dominic was really keen to dive in and start his Level 7 apprenticeship with Reed Business School. He initially struggled with the time management aspect, but once he found his rhythm, he was even impressing himself with how much he was learning!

“It has been hard, but I’m able to apply my learning at work, and I understand it so much better and can feel myself improving so much. It feels really rewarding.”

Dominic has passed all his exams first time so far, and believes Reed Business School’s classroom set up is a key factor in this.

Being there engages you in the studying so much more, especially for the revision period. Having a group of classmates from different firms you can chat to and use as a support network is really useful, and having dedicated revision time with a supportive tutor is so rare and special. You wouldn’t get this at another provider.” 

Throughout his apprenticeship, Dominic has also been developing his critical thinking skills with the help of his business coach, Rob. He’s been learning how to view situations from multiple angles, and speak up in the right circumstances to apply his questioning mind.

Dominic’s advice to those starting out?

Don’t keep things to yourself. Talk about anything you’re unsure of – in class or at work. Not speaking up doesn’t help you, or anyone else. Continue to ask questions and have conversations, and you’ll progress much faster.”  

And a word from Dominic’s manager

“At Richardsons Chartered Accountants, we want our staff to have the best possible experience whilst studying towards their exams. Reed Business School has excellent teaching staff, a strong record of pass rates along with fantastic facilities for our students to study and relax. The support staff have been brilliant with enrolling the students on to apprenticeships, dealing with our queries promptly and accommodating for any changes. We have been using RBS for many years now, with lots of students successfully completing their qualifications.” Jack Armstrong, Associate Director, Richardsons Chartered Accountants

My ICAEW apprenticeship journey with Lily Gammon

At the end of 2022 Lily Gammon completed the final three Advanced Level papers of her ACA apprenticeship with Reed Business School. Her average mark over the three papers is nothing short of astonishing – making her the second highest performer in the world. We caught up with her for National Apprenticeship Week 2023 to see how she did it.

Lily works as a Senior at Francis Clark – a role that gives her exposure to a wide variety accounting work, including accounts preparation, corporate tax and personal tax. She believes that this range of work has helped her understanding of how different elements of the profession fit together:

“My studying and my job have worked really well alongside each other, especially over the last year – what I do in one has helped me with the other – so now I have much more awareness of how everything intertwines.”

When it comes to her studying, Lily is the master of planning and hard work. She balances her time very well, and isn’t afraid to put the hours in revising – up to three hours in the evenings and more at weekends. Then when exams are around the corner, she somehow finds the time to do even more!

“I’m someone who panics a bit when it comes to exams, so I work really hard to get through it and make sure I can feel confident on the day. I don’t want the one topic I haven’t revised to be the one that comes up on the paper!”

As someone who lives quite far way away from The Manor, Lily opted to do most of her studying with us remotely and enjoyed being able to follow her own schedule surrounded by her home comforts. But that didn’t stop Lily making the most of time with her tutors, asking questions, and getting feedback on her mock questions and papers.

“I would spend the first few weeks going through my notes to make sure they were as good as possible, then I’d move onto completing practice papers and questions. I tried every single one available, and went through the mark scheme and tutor feedback carefully to see where I went wrong and what I could do better.”

It’s certainly a method that works for Lily, and her impressive results are more accident than intention: “I just wanted to pass, I wasn’t aiming to be the best in the world!”

As part of her apprenticeship, she’s also been successful in the Skills and Behaviours element, which she’s been working on with her coach throughout. Lily believes her confidence in talking to clients is what has improved the most.

“When I look at what I can do now compared with three years ago – I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. I’m more confident on the phone, sitting in on more meetings, and feel like I can help our clients much better.”

Lily is now helping to design and deliver an improved training programme for all new trainees at her firm. She’s really happy in being able to pass on what she’s learnt over the past few years, while the process has also helped solidify her understanding of various technical elements of the course.

Lily’s main advice to those starting out in their training is to ask questions to clarify anything they don’t understand.

“There’s no point sitting and struggling, so stick your hand up and ask. It will help everyone in the long run.”

And a note from Lilly’s manager

“We use Reed Business School as they are a well respected training provider and our students have always achieved excellent results studying with them.” Vicky Clancy, Technincal Learning Manager, PKF Francis Clark


My AAT apprenticeship journey with Simon Lockwood

Simon Lockwood is a trainee accountant at Crowther’s, and his just completed his Level 2 AAT qualification on an apprenticeship programme with Reed Business School.

Simon knew he wanted to be an accountant from the age of about 14 – with a natural aptitude for Maths and an enjoyment of his Business Studios classes at school. When coming to the end of his A-Levels he started considering his main options: university to study accountancy; or an apprenticeship to earn and learn at the same time. It was his career advisor who recommend the apprenticeship route:

My advisor said that as I was so sure that this was what I wanted to do, it made sense to start doing it straight away, so he encouraged me to follow this path – and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!”

Simon took the summer off after school, and then began looking for relevant opportunities, where he came across his current trainee role with Crowther’s. He was keen to start studying for his AAT qualification, which he believes will be a strong stepping stone towards an ACCA qualification -something he hopes to start as soon as he’s finished his AAT Level 3 this time next year.

“ACCA is really well respected in the industry, and a lot of my colleagues (including directors at my firm) have this qualification, so that’s my next goal.”

The mindful education programme that Reed Business School offers has worked really well for Simon, allowing him to engage in workshops and access online content when he wants to. He has found the consolidated approach of mini assessments after each subsection and fuller tests after whole modules to be invaluable for retaining information and helping him apply it correctly.

Simon believes our classroom structure also works really well for maximising his learning opportunities – giving more access to his tutors to get answers to his questions and additional support where required. He’s also looking forward to more of our famous lunches at the manor when he returns for his next block of classes!

In terms of his favourite elements of his training so far, Simon has enjoyed bank reconciliations the most, especially as he’s able to apply that knowledge directly to his job. Working in a smaller firm means he gets quite a broad range of experience across different areas:

“I’m lucky to be able to work on everything from personal tax returns, year-end accounting, bank reconciliations and bookkeeping, and the more I study, the more I understand about each aspect, which makes me enjoy it more.”

Simon would absolutely recommend the AAT apprenticeship with Reed Business School to those with an interest in accountancy.

“I find it really enjoyable, I’m really happy with the path I’m on, and I can’t wait to start my Level 3.”

And finally a word from Simon’s manager

“As an ACA Reed graduate myself, I am familiar with the way the business school works; the high quality tutors – and the lunches! The support on offer is fantastic, and I hope Simon continues to thrive during his studies there.”

Sarah Medcalf, Manager, ACA, Crowther’s

My ACCA apprenticeship journey with Katie Moran

Katie Moran is currently working towards her Level 7 ACCA qualification on the apprenticeship programme with Reed Business School. As a mature student, who started her training in her 40s, her story is a little different to most…

Growing up, Katie wanted to be a teacher. She trained for it at university, but found herself in a banking job shortly after graduation. After returning to teaching some years later, she realised that the profession wasn’t for her after all, and that banking and finance were perhaps a better fit.

Securing a new job with Cheltenham Borough Council, she immediately felt encouraged to develop professionally, and began considering her options. Like many people, Katie assumed that apprenticeships were designed for and aimed at school-leavers, but was pleasantly surprised to find that anyone looking for a new career could start one – and her employer was very supportive of this.

“I’ve worked in various companies in various roles related to finance, but I never had the official qualifications or technical knowledge. Now I’ve got this fantastic opportunity to learn and get that knowledge while earning money at the same time.”

Although CIPFA might have been the more obvious choice for a public sector organisation, Katie’s line manager, as well as several colleagues, all had ACCA qualifications, and their experiences (including a couple of Reed Business School alumni) swayed her towards ACCA.

One of the features of the apprenticeship route is the focus on developing the necessary skills and behaviours to succeed in the professional environment. As someone with a lot of business skills and experience already behind her, Katie has considered (with the support of her coach) how she can improve these further to meet the objectives of the programme.

“A school leaver with minimal work experience might want to develop their professional communication skills and confidence in working with various systems. I knew these were already strengths of mine, so I thought I could help guide others in these skills, using my teaching experience, and develop myself at the same time.”

Katie really enjoys her classes at our school, as she can have direct access to her tutors to answer questions, and connect more personally with her classmates in the break-times. She likes being able to work on practice questions in her own time, while also benefitting from direct feedback from her tutors following her mock assessments.

As a former teacher, Katie is very diligent when it comes to planning ahead and preparing for each class, but also in undertaking the independent study element of the programme, making the most of the resources available to her.

“The resources provided are excellent. To support your learning you get copies of books, a bank of practice questions, mock papers and access to a CPD training site where you can take bitesize courses whenever you like.” 

Katie’s advice to people seeking a career change a little bit later in life?

Don’t be afraid to take the leap – it’s never too late to try something new. The two or three years this qualification takes are going to pass anyway, so you may as well spend that time doing something you’ve always wanted to do, then you’ll always have your qualification.”