When mother of three, Nathaly, researched career options she decided she wanted to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Having left school with few formal qualifications, she contacted De Montfort University in Leicester to enquire about their Pharmacy degree and was advised to enrol on the Access to Higher Education (Science) Diploma at Leicester College first. Wanting to prepare for higherlevel study, Nathaly first completed level 2 Adult Literacy and Numeracy and attended Rutland Adult Learning for further maths teaching. Nathaly also read self-study AS-level science books at home and then completed the Access course in 2010. Nathaly is due to begin her degree in September 2011 and aims to volunteer as an assistant in adult and primary education classes too, so she can pass on her love of science.
Despite having family responsibilities, a lack of income and managing a visual impairment, Nathaly’s determination means she is on track to her chosen career. “I truly hope that I can inspire people who are in a similar situation to me, to step out of the boat and make the first steps towards a life-changing experience,” reflected Nathaly.
Jim was encouraged to take up learning by HOPE for the Homeless following years of alcohol and substance misuse. Initially Jim agreed as a way to take his mind off personal problems, but it soon became a desire to learn. At the age of 48, Jim first attended NOCN Money Management and Budgeting courses, moving on to Anger Management and Emotional Literacy. He then completed NOCN Independent Living and soon after secured a flat where he could live. Jim now works for Lighthouse Homes homeless project as a support worker, teaching budgeting and life skills to clients, as well as voluntary work with ex-offenders and at a drop-in centre for the disadvantaged. Jim’s partner and daughter are living with him again and he is due to begin an NVQ3 in Health and Social Care so he can continue his learning journey.
“Learning has improved my life in such a way that I feel rewarded from what I have learnt. I can’t express in words what learning has done for me, but I will not stop learning,” said Jim.
Undiagnosed dyslexia at school, coupled with problems at home, meant Daniel left college with one AS-level and a GCSE. Haunted by a former teacher’s comments that university was out of his reach, he believed he’d reached his potential and began full-time work, but was always unfulfilled. Having suffered a nervous breakdown in 2003, he yearned for more in his life, and when a friend suggested he apply to university, he did. Daniel is currently in the first year of a Psychology degree at Staffordshire University, and achieving top marks in his assignments.
Daniel chose to study Psychology due to personal experience, hoping he could use his qualification to help others. He is currently transferring his skills to voluntary work for St John Ambulance as a trainer, first aider and youth worker, as well as working with Staffordshire Youth Offending Team. “I know I have a lot to learn and I hope that I can give back what I have been so fortunate to receive,” smiled Daniel.
Having left school with no qualifications, in 2008 Susan was encouraged by her eldest son to enrol on a Skills for Life entry level 3 course in computers at Dudley College, with the promise that he’d enrol too, for support. She soon passed, and went on to complete CLAIT level 1, ECDL levels 1 and 2, ITQ level 2 and Sageline 50 Computerised Accounts level 2. She took on voluntary work as a teaching support assistant helping adults with IT, knowing she needed experience to find a job, and then found paid work as a Community Learning Champion (CLC) in 2010. Since then she has helped 168 adult learners on to courses through her role at Sandwell Adult and Family Learning.
Whilst employed, Susan has continued her learning and gained ECDL level 3, First Aid, CLC level 2, Food Hygiene level 2 and Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector – with the aim of becoming an ICT teacher so that she can “...demonstrate to other people that learning is not all that scary and they too can succeed!”
When Lindsay joined Hendra Healthcare in January 2010 she grasped the opportunity of undertaking an Adult Apprenticeship and NVQ level 3 in Care. Her employers were committed to training staff, and Lindsay found her experience of learning made her aspire to more. She is soon to complete the apprenticeship in record time, having trained for just over a year. She has also completed a First Aid course and specialist footcare programme, and is now qualified to use a defibrillator and administer medication. She has already been promoted to Team Leader and is currently completing a First Line Managers’ programme. Lindsay uses her skills to help deliver quality care to elderly care home residents, always going the extra mile to provide personal touches that vastly improve their quality of life.
Lindsay is committed to her role, the lives of the residents and also to helping other staff in their training. She said: “I now recognise that not only do I have a job which I love, but more importantly a career with opportunities for progression in the future.”
Teresa left school at the age of thirteen with no qualifications, led an unsettled life for many years, had five children and worked in unskilled jobs to make ends meet. In 2007, she was a client in a hair salon and confided that she wanted to be a hairdresser but lacked the confidence to apply. Her hairdresser was also a lecturer at South Worcestershire College and encouraged her to apply to study. So Teresa began studying in 2008 and gained NVQ levels 1 and 2 in Hairdressing (completing five more modules than the assessment required), as well as level 2 Health and Safety in the Workplace, an ear-piercing qualification and level 1 in Literacy and Numeracy. She is currently completing level 3 in Hairdressing as well as level 2 in Literacy and Numeracy and hopes to learn Beauty Therapy on their completion.
Teresa feels she was given a new lease of life that day in the salon: “The future is looking bright and I can’t wait to improve the lives of others by making them feel better about themselves too using all my new skills.”
Having left school with no qualifications, Tina was nervous about starting a level 1 award in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair (Motorcycle) at Canterbury College in 2009. However, she completed the course and also gained level 1 certificates in Literacy and Numeracy and a level 2 Service Maintenance Technician qualification, making her a qualified light vehicle technician. Tina continued studying and gained the level 2 award in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair too. Tina is the first female in the south east region to gain Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) which she puts to good use by working at her husband’s motor vehicle business, enabling the business to grow.
“As a female in a very male-orientated world, adjusting to a male environment has been very challenging, but in spite of this I have managed to achieve,” said Tina. “Receiving the qualifications that I have earned will enable me to go forward and carry out my dreams of becoming an MOT tester for the class that I have a great passion for – motorcycles.”
In 2007 as a single parent in receipt of income support, Cheryl told her local Jobcentre Plus that she wanted to get to grips with computers and gain skills to re-enter the workplace. She was signposted towards New Directions in Reading and began with a First Step computer course followed by e-Citizen and European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) courses, finding she naturally supported other learners in their study too. Cheryl joined a volunteering course to formally gain skills to support adults on skills for life courses and then began voluntary work, helping out in IT and literacy classes at New Directions. Cheryl also completed an advanced ECDL course followed by a Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector qualification in December 2009.
In March 2010 Cheryl gained employment as an IT tutor at New Directions and is now working in a job that allows her to juggle work with family life. “My confidence has blossomed and I feel that I am giving something back after all the help and support I have received,” said Cheryl, who gained a Further Lifelong Learning teaching certificate in 2011.
Ken endured a turbulent childhood and schooling, leaving without any qualifications. Luckily he showed a natural flair for weight training at his local youth club, which led to a very successful career in weight-lifting, attaining many titles and world records. Ken’s sporting achievements, supported by skills learnt on fitness and teaching short courses, later helped him to run a successful fitness gym and coach local people. However, a lack of formal qualifications became a barrier to coaching at a higher level so he enrolled on the Open University’s Sport, Fitness and Management course. Ken struggled with the academic side of the course, later being diagnosed with dyslexia. The diagnosis meant he could get the assistance he needed to complete the course in 2010 and he is now studying the Foundation Degree in Sport, Fitness and Management in order to become a national coach.
Nominator, Linda, said of Ken: “He has shown great courage in returning to education. He found the selfbelief to think that he could achieve despite his experience at school.” Ken added: “I knew where the future lay and pursued sport... My aim is to become a good national coach.”
In the last year, John has made a determined effort to come off benefits so that he can provide a better life for his family and himself. He enrolled with the Workers’ Educational Association and studied level 1 Literacy and Numeracy and a British Sign Language course at their Omega Centre. John has now moved on to level 2 in Literacy and Numeracy and is also completing a qualification in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. John supports his family by working as a cleaner in the early mornings before classes start, and also works voluntarily for the Prince’s Trust by helping young offenders in prison.
John had a troubled childhood, leaving school with no qualifications and ending up in prison later in life. He aims to use his experience and qualifications to get a permanent job working with young offenders. “I chose this type of learning because I wanted to improve my chances of getting better employment in the future as I missed out on school when I was younger. It really has transformed me,” ended John.