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Rachael’s Story: “It’s never too late to change career and follow your dreams!”


Rachael’s Story: “It’s never too late to change career and follow your dreams!”

A former adult education student is now officially one of the country’s top hairdressers.

Rachael Penny, from Wisbech, studied hairdressing at the College of West Anglia and was a bronze medallist at the WorldSkills UK national finals at the L’Oreal Academy in London. Her achievement was given extra limelight when it was announced live by presenter Steph McGovern during Channel 4’s Packed Lunch as part of its coverage of the competition.

The hairdressing course studied by Rachael is one of many funded by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority as part of its control of the £12 million adult education budget for the region. Since adult education was devolved to the Combined Authority, it has focussed more of the budget on helping people get the skills they need to secure good jobs and careers.

Rachael had to complete five different tests over the course of two days, including reverse balayage, a bridal look as well as precision cuts and colour work.

Rachael said:

“I am overwhelmed to be a WorldSkills UK Bronze medallist. Many thanks to David Pomfret, Principal of CWA, and Sarah Smith, my former tutor, for urging me to enter and for their support and encouragement.

This competition has been an extensive process, with hundreds of entrants nationwide, and three stages to pass prior to the finals. These included photographic entries of my work, as well as a live zoom national qualifier, where we completed a cut and colour in a given time.

I was amazed to find I had made the finals where we spent two intensive days styling in London, courtesy of L’Oreal Academy.  It has all been a fantastic experience and to gain a World Skills medal is the icing on the cake. It’s never too late to change career and follow your dreams!

I now look forward to my future hairstyling career and to building a clientele. You can follow my work on Facebook or Instagram @rachaelpennyhairstylist.”

Rachael adds this to her list of successes this year, having won the Concept Hair Magazine’s Learner of the Year 2021 in the avant-garde category, Concept Hair learner of the month June 2021 as well as winning the Prostyling UK 2020 competition.

Rachael decided to return to learning as a mature student two years ago and has now completed her level 3 qualification in Hairdressing and has now set up her own home salon, The Hair Art Room.

Additionally, CWA Creative Media students were one of five teams to compete at the national Worldskills UK final in the Digital Media Production category.

David Pomfret, Principal at CWA, said:

CWA had more finalists and medal winners than any other college in the region this year and this is testament to the highly-skilled students and dedicated teachers at the college. I’d like to personally congratulate our talented students and the CWA staff team for their unwavering support.”

For anyone in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough interested in finding out more what adult education can offer them, visit our on our Growth Works With Skills website.