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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.”

My AAT apprenticeship journey with Isabel Godfrey

Isabel Godfrey is an Outsourcing Associate at Wenn Townsend, and is about to start her Level 3 AAT apprenticeship, having just finished her Level 2 exams with us.

Isabel didn’t have a clear career path once she’d left school, so took on an admin job at Wenn Townsend once she’d finished her A-Levels to get some office experience. She enjoyed the work, and following some time away travelling, she was welcomed back to the team, and started to consider progression within the firm.

After obtaining an admin qualification, Isabel was encouraged to consider the accountancy route, and having heard great things about Reed Business School from her colleagues who also study with us, she was pleased to start her Level 2 AAT apprenticeship.

“I chose AAT because I didn’t have much relevant experience, I and wanted to start at the bottom to learn everything properly. It feels like a really good stepping stone along a pathway that’s becoming much clearer now.”

Isabel’s learning has mostly been online so far, with regular workshops and revision sessions to help her prepare for her exams. While she initially struggled a little to get to grips with the workload and study pattern, she’s now found her groove, and can’t wait to get stuck into her Level 3 classes at the Business School.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that planning ahead really helps. I plan my time much better now, especially in the run-up to exams, and feel much more in control of my work-life balance.”

Isabel has been really impressed with the quantity and variety of resources available to her to support her learning, and is a big fan of the blended learning methods Reed Business School provides.

“The workshops are fantastic for being able to discuss areas I’m struggling with and to identify what I need to work on. We also get given practice papers which get individually marked with feedback, while the flexibility of being able to access online resources when I need them is really useful.”

Starting a new role within the accounts function a few months ago has really helped Isabel’s learning, and vice versa. Her work involves managing payroll journals, reconciliations and invoicing, and while it can be quite repetitive, Isabel now has a much better understanding of what it all means and why it’s important.

“I used to process the invoices just because that’s what I had to do, but now I understand what the invoices are, how they are constructed, and how to interpret all the information on them.”

As Isabel is still in the relatively early stages of her career, she’s unsure what path she’ll choose after completing her Level 3 qualification. She’s open to continuing with AAT or switching to ACA like some of her colleagues, but whatever she does, we’re sure she’ll do really well!

and finally a word from Isabel’s manager

“We choose Reed Business School as our preferred training provider due to the school consistently achieving pass rates higher than the national average and the excellent support the RBS team provide to the students. Our students completing their studies on the apprenticeship scheme at Reed also benefit from the support of an RBS learning coach and as a result our students are consistently qualifying as Chartered Accountants at Reed Business School. “

Jane Bull, FCA, Director of Accounting, Wenn Townsend

My ICAEW apprenticeship journey with Ajay Gohil

Ajay Gohil, Accounts Senior at Wenn Townsend, recently qualified as an ACA chartered accountant via Reed Business School’s apprenticeship scheme. We spoke to him to find out about his training journey.

After completing A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, Ajay went on to study Physics at university. However, upon graduating, he decided to move into accountancy, and obtained a junior role at a firm where he could earn and start working towards his ACA qualification at the same time.

Ajay hadn’t really considered the apprenticeship route into accountancy before, but once he’d passed his certificate level papers, he was encouraged to join that pathway for the final two levels, with Reed Business School as the firm’s chosen training provider. Immediately he connected with the structure and pace of the programme and began to excel.

“The classroom environment at Reed Business School really suited me – being able to ask questions and get support on things I was struggling with. The feedback and marking of the mock exams also helped influence my revision, so I knew what areas I needed to focus on in the run up to each paper.”

When Ajay decided to move firm part-way through his studies, he asked his new employer whether he could continue with his apprenticeship with Reed, and they were very responsive to the idea – so much so that’s it’s standard practice for all their trainee accountants now!

In his current role, Ajay gets exposure to a lot of different areas of accountancy, and this has helped him get a broad understanding of the profession, while his softer business skills and behaviours also developed in line with the Skills & Behaviours element of the apprenticeship training.

“I was quite lucky to be able to have the role I did and the support of my firm to assist in my development, they’ve been fantastic throughout, and now I hope to be able to use my experience to guide and mentor the new apprentices my firm takes on.”

When it comes to support from Reed, Ajay believes the collaborative teaching approach we use for the Advanced Level papers is second to none:

“Talking openly with classmates and tutors about how to prepare for these exams was really useful. Reed facilitated these discussions and brought us all together in a professional and focused way, where we all felt supported and encouraged. I don’t think I would have passed the exams if it wasn’t for this.”

Now he’s fully qualified, Ajay admits that although his work/life/study balance was a little tricky to manage in the final year of his training, he’s very glad of the sacrifices he made to pass all his exams, He is now looking forward to working towards a new set of goals in relation to his career progression.

and finally a word from Ajay’s manager

“We choose Reed Business School as our preferred training provider due to the school consistently achieving pass rates higher than the national average and the excellent support the RBS team provide to the students. Our trainees largely stay at the manor whilst completing their courses, enabling them to study with their peers whilst benefiting from the expertise of the tutors in an environment away from the day to day responsibilities of work and home life. Our students completing their studies on the apprenticeship scheme at Reed also benefit from the support of an RBS learning coach and as a result our students are consistently qualifying as Chartered Accountants at Reed Business School. “

Jane Bull, FCA, Director of Accounting, Wenn Townsend

My ICAEW apprenticeship journey with Shaun Kailla

Today we’re sharing Shaun Kailla’s apprenticeship journey with Reed Business School. Shaun is Accounts and Audit Associate at Wenn Townsend and is coming up to his final round of professional level exams in his ACA qualification.

Shaun excelled at Maths as a child, and his love of the subject saw him through a Further Maths A-Level and then a Maths degree at Birmingham University. Unsure of which pathway to take after this, it was Shaun’s mum who first recommended the accountancy profession, and a friend directed him to the ICAEW website, where he spotted a job advert for a trainee position at Wenn Townsend.

Having researched thoroughly, Shaun knew that the ACA qualification was the one for him, and although he hadn’t previously considered an apprenticeship, he liked the look of the apprenticeship pathway and the structure of the course Reed Business School offers, which seemed to suit his personality and goals.

As part of the cohort affected by Covid, Shaun has experienced both our classroom teaching and the online learning and resources, and he has great things to say about both:

“I loved going to the classroom – it was a great opportunity to get involved, ask questions, and develop friendships with other people in my cohort. The online resources have also been amazing and I really like being able to view the notes, chat to my tutors and classmates online, and rewatch the class recordings when I want to.”

One of the key elements of the apprenticeship programme is the focus on learning the skills and behaviours to succeed in business, as well as the technical knowledge. Accountants, in particular those in client-facing roles, must have a well-rounded skillset to be able to communicate complex information and manage professional relationships, and this is one area where Shaun has really developed during his apprenticeship.

“When I started, I wasn’t particularly confident in being able to communicate technical information with clients. But a combination of studying to understand it better, experience on the job in a client-facing role, and working with my coach to improve my confidence now means I can do this with ease, which will really help me in my career going forward.”

Shaun admits that his determination not to fail any of his exams has meant a lot of hours spent on his study, occasionally at the detriment of his social life, but believes it’s absolutely worth it. He’s now even looking forward to supporting the next intake of trainees at his firm.

“All the trainees at Wenn Townsend now follow the apprenticeship pathway with Reed Business School, and I’m really glad I get the chance to guide them, and be able to pass on my knowledge and experiences so far.”

As for the future, Shaun is currently just focused on passing his remaining exams first time to get the qualification under his belt.

We believe in you, Shaun, you got this!

and finally a word from Shaun’s manager

“We choose Reed Business School as our preferred training provider due to the school consistently achieving pass rates higher than the national average and the excellent support the RBS team provide to the students. Our trainees largely stay at the manor whilst completing their courses, enabling them to study with their peers whilst benefiting from the expertise of the tutors in an environment away from the day to day responsibilities of work and home life. Our students completing their studies on the apprenticeship scheme at Reed also benefit from the support of an RBS learning coach and as a result our students are consistently qualifying as Chartered Accountants at Reed Business School. “

Jane Bull, FCA, Director of Accounting, Wenn Townsend

NEW Celebrating 50 years of Reed Business School!

Celebrating 50 years of Reed Business School

Autumn 2022 marks 50 years since Reed Business School (formerly Reed College of Accountancy) opened. It’s been quite a ride along the way, so this week we’re looking back at some of the key landmarks in our history.


Our founder, Sir Alec Reed, bought The Manor (our stunning Cotswolds home) and a few months later it was opened as a residential accountancy college and named Reed College of Accountancy. The first course the College ran had just three students!

The Chartered accountancy courses for examinations in the 1970s were run as eight-week crammer style courses with lectures running for 12-day continuous stretches, commencing from 9am going through to 10pm at night.

Thankfully this style of intensive last-minute approach has since been refined, with students today being taught over much longer periods and qualifications examined in a modular format.

The 1970s

The school became popular and was well-known for its high pass rates. Founding tutors Ken Preece and Lawrie Drury introduced the ‘guaranteed pass’, with the promise of free resits if students didn’t pass their exams first time.

They also went on to develop the range and number of accountancy qualifications which continue to be run today from the Business School.

The 1980s

Reed Educational Trust, a registered charity, was formed in the late 1980s and Reed College changed its name to Reed Business School, which is now the trading arm of the Trust. All the profits from the Business School are covenanted up to the Trust, donating funds to many charities involved in learning and education.

Some of the earliest graduates from Reed Business School, now partners or senior managers in firms, begin sending their trainee accountants to us, thus cementing Reed Business’s school’s position as the training provider of choice for many businesses across the UK.

The 1990s

Reed Business school became more structured and professional, hiring key staff, some of whom have been with us ever since. Operations Manager Stella Shaw recently celebrated her 30th anniversary with us, and our previous head chef, Craig Wright, had been serving up a very popular range of meals for us each day for over 20 years until he recently moved roles.

The Manor’s gardening team continue to make improvements and maintain the beautiful grounds, which are available to all our students for enjoyment and relaxation. The gardens are opened to the public, now on an annual basis, the popularity of which allow us to raise more important funds for charity.

The 2000s

We begin a series of major upgrade works to our suite of our 10 residential cottages, enabling students to relax in a home-from-home setting while studying hard during the day. This has become a core aspect of our offering and sets us apart from every other accountancy training provider we know about.

The explosion of the internet and rise in computer-based working means we modernise various other aspects of our operation to keep up with new technology. We begin hosting various internal meetings and training courses across the Reed family of companies, as we are the go-to destination for this.


While we’ve always been open about our exceptional pass rates, 2011 was when we began formally recording and publishing every single one – warts and all. That summer, Reed Business School pass rates across all ACCA papers were an average of 92% higher than the worldwide pass rate, and our CIMA pass rates (across all papers) were 33% higher than the national average.

We also had a prize winner – Hayley Cleaver – who came top in her ICAEW Professional Stage Audit & Assurances papers and won the Watts prize (for achieving the highest mark). Our Advanced results for this cohort were outstanding with a 93% of the class passing all 3 papers for the first time (58% higher than the national average).

We still publish our pass rate results in full every six months, with numbers very similar to the above. Check them all out here.


Reed Business school starts offering apprenticeships in accountancy (Level 4 and Level 7), enabling those from a wide range of backgrounds to become fully qualified accountants. In the five years since launching, we have helped hundreds of apprentices achieve their goal, with many more due to qualify soon.

Some of our apprentices have also won awards for their excellent exam achievements – read more about their success here.


Like many businesses, the covid pandemic meant we had to rapidly change our business model to deliver our world-class training online. We launched virtual classrooms and workspaces for our tutors and students to collaborate, many of which are still in operation today to support our blended learning methodologies.

Pass rates remained high that year – ACCA results were on average 79% higher than the national average across all papers, and ICAEW pass rates were 8% higher, plus we had two more prize winners in Lily Gammon and William Fowler.

2022 and beyond

Who knows what the future may bring, but we remain dedicated to being the best accountancy training provider in the country and supporting many more accountants through their journey to becoming fully qualified.

“Our unique residential courses make study a pleasure and increases the percentage of first-time passes. Our results are outstanding!” Sir Alec Reed

Would you like to start your accounting qualification with us? Click here to find out more

Our latest A* apprentice!

We caught up with Francesca O’Brien, a newly qualified accountant at Midlands-based firm TGFP, who flew through her ICAEW (ACA) apprenticeship at Reed Business School with flying colours. How did she do it?

Early days

Like many young people completing their A-Levels, Francesca was unsure of what to do when she left school. She took some time out, completed various work placements, and due to her proficiency for Maths was encouraged to take her AAT.

But upon securing a trainee accountant position at a small local firm, Francescsa came across the ACA apprenticeship programme run by Reed Business School, and leapt at the chance to study while working.

“I wanted to qualify as soon as possible, and other pathways like going to university would have taken much longer, so this really worked for me.”

Before long, Francesca found herself working for a larger firm with larger clients, and really started to fly, passing all her exams, and developing many of her softer skills along the way.

The balancing game

Like many trainee accountants, Francesca initially struggled with the demands of learning new things on the job, as well as well as keeping up with all of her ACA studies.

The structure of Reed Business School’s programme really worked for Francesca, allowing her that dedicated time to study and revise ahead of each exam. As a naturally organised and self-disciplined person, she soon found her rhythm and processes to help her retain the necessary information for each paper.

Francesca enjoyed and excelled at her tax papers, as she had experience in the relevant calculations and processes at work and was able to combine work and study effectively. She found the audit papers more of a challenge to start with, but was able to get all the extra support she needed from her tutor.

“I was quite shy to begin with, especially when a lot of my classmates were from audit backgrounds, but I found the tutors really open to answering questions in the break times, and being able to watch the recorded online classes during Covid was really useful.”  

Developing Skills and Behaviours

One of the key strands of the apprenticeship pathway is the focus on developing useful business skills and behaviours to go alongside the technical knowledge. And as someone lacking in confidence to start with, this is perhaps where Francesca made her most impressive strides, with the help of her coach, Barbara.

Early on, the pair identified that communication, particularly over the phone, as something Francesca needed to work on. Barbara would help set goals for Francesca to achieve in between their meetings, but it was up to Francesca herself to do the work and report back each time.

Barbara comments; “Francesca was very engaged in the programme, and would always be prepared to challenge herself and ask questions in between our sessions. She worked through her fear of speaking on the phone step by step, and is now incredibly fluent in it.”

As well as developing her confidence in telephone communication, Francesca continued to surprise herself in applying her technical knowledge and business skills throughout the process.

“At school you’re spoon-fed information a lot and not taught how to work things out for yourself. During my apprenticeship I learnt how to understand my clients better, so I could serve them better. Even simple things, like converting a sole-trader into a limited company, including researching and communicating how that would affect them, was something I never thought I’d be able to do to start with. Now I’d be able to approach it with confidence.” 

A Case Study of Success

One of the most challenging elements of accountancy training for many is the final case study paper, where it’s your chance to apply your knowledge into a real business situation. Francesca, too, struggled to get her head around this module to start with, but credits her tutor, Matt, for her success.

The resources and support Matt provided couldn’t have been any better. I’m sure I would have failed if it hadn’t been for him.” 

The pair worked through four mock papers together, and while they didn’t all go the way she wanted, the knockbacks, combined with her grit and determination saw her pass the exam first time.

Final thoughts

Francesca was full of praise for the school, her tutors and coach, and we’re really proud of her journey.

“As someone with no accounting experience before I started, only a Maths A-Level, I’d really recommend taking the ACA apprenticeship with Reed Business School. You can become a chartered accountant in 3 years, and learn the skills and behaviours to succeed in business at the same time.”

Would you like to start your apprenticeship journey with Reed Business School? Click here to find out more.