We were delighted to have Rt Hon Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, visiting us for our GCSE Award Ceremony at the Guildford Centre, Surrey Adult Learning (SAL), on 24 November 2017.
Before she presented the awards, she talked about the huge variety of reasons why school doesn't always work for people. Her speech was hugely inspiring for our staff and our learners. She recognised that going back into learning when you're older takes a lot of courage and bravery, "it is a risk and it's a bit like stepping on to a diving board and not being absolutely sure if there is any water in the swimming pool. It's a scary feeling and I absolutely don't underestimate the courage to take it".
Anne congratulated everyone for their achievements, not just for maths and English, but for taking that first step. She also said a huge thank you to our tutors and staff and to Councillor Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Education, Surrey County Council, who was also present for the ceremony. I was impressed with the time she spent with the learners following the ceremony and how well she interacted with them on a personal level.
Mary Lewis reiterated to our learners, "please go out and tell everyone else if they don't have a qualification and they need to make a difference in their life, they can do it and that this evening is proof to everybody that it can be done".
I also got the chance to update Anne on SAL's new Apprenticeship programme. It is a very exciting start for us and our initial apprenticeship offer will be for Surrey County Council employees, delivering Business Administration, Customer Service as well as Team Leader/Supervisor apprenticeships.
The visit went extremely well, and we have thanked all our staff and volunteers involved for supporting our learners and tutors so professionally.
Army officer leads the way for hesitant learners
Learner Martyn Payne is currently in the army serving with 25 Training Regiment, based at Princess Royal Barracks in Deepcut. As he had a toddler at home and is now expecting another in the New Year, he decided to focus on GCSE English this year and intends to consider taking Maths in the future. He achieved an excellent Level 6, praising his tutor Sue Haigh's teaching ability. He was really surprised to get such a high grade in his exam, as he juggled his English classes between his 2 jobs in Camberley and Southampton, plus he also thought he had misjudged the timing on his exam paper. His regiment provides administrative support and military continuation training to soldiers undertaking initial trade training, so this course has provided him with improved confidence in his written skills, which he can use in his day to day work. Martyn has a few more years to go before he leaves the army and he decided to take the GCSE to help him apply for a commission to become an officer. Now he has his GCSE English he can apply to do an Army sponsored degree course in Logistics which will help him transition into civilian life once he leaves the armed services.
New life and positive changes for SAL learner
Kathy found herself looking for a job when she was going through a divorce, but without any qualifications the roles available were very limited. She decided to take both Maths and English GCSEs while she was not working, and so had plenty of time to put into doing the homework, which paid off as she achieved an excellent Level 6 in English and a Level 4 in Maths. She started applying for jobs towards the end of her course, and as a result of her doing her GCSEs she now has a new job as a Student Support Assistant at Treloars School in Alton, supporting children with disabilities. Kathy has also started an NVQ Level 3 course in Social Care.
SAL Learner with dyslexia excels at GCSE
Sian took GCSE English at the Farnham Centre, purely because she wanted to improve her education as she never did very well at school. She discovered much later that she is dyslexic and that was why she always struggled with schoolwork. Surrey Adult Learning was able to arrange an assessment for Sian, which confirmed her dyslexia and as a result she was awarded extra time in her exams to help her achieve an excellent Level 5. Having passed her GCSE, Sian is much more confident and she has gone on to start an Open University Course in Early Childhood to support her work as a Childminder. Her family have been very supportive and are very proud of her achievement.
GCSE English qualification strengthens Surrey workforce
James used to be a Water Tester and then changed his career path to join his family's Financial Advisory firm in Camberley as a Para planner. In his new job he undertakes a number of non-client facing tasks involved in preparing and administering a Financial Plan or Report. Taking his English GCSE has enabled James to write better quality reports and he now feels much more confident in dealing directly with clients. He praised his tutor Sue Haigh saying she was a 'fantastic tutor'. He is thinking about starting a GCSE Maths next year.