Surrey Adult Learning GCSE awards ceremony 2018

SAL was delighted to celebrate the success of our learners on GCSE courses with an award ceremony held at the Surrey History Centre in Woking on Monday 19 November 2018. Liz Mills – Director for Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture, and Children and Families presented the certificates to thrilled achievers. County Councillor and Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning Mary Lewis addressed the achievers with a moving speech. Mary is a former teacher so recognised the effort required to pass a GCSE qualification as an adult learner, and expressed her pride and enthusiasm for their achievement.

Surrey Adult Learning's Principal Anu Chanda also addressed the learners and Ireni Thalassinos, Manager for English and Maths, delivered a short presentation that highlighted the increase in achievement rates since last year. She was followed by the English Lead Tutor, Sue Haigh, who shared some learner success stories with the audience. There was a joyful, uplifting buzz at the event, where learners from all walks of life shared common ground of success!

Refreshments were served afterwards, providing learners, family members, tutors and support staff the opportunity to celebrate success and realise the impact of achieving GCSEs not only as skills for life, but also for jobs and personal self-development, creating a stronger Surrey in the workplace and in the community. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the event and there was lots of joy and laughter.

Learner Success stories

Rasha Fares - from mum to Surrey County Council employee!

Rasha took GCSE maths at our Woking Centre and was absolutely thrilled with her result, gaining an excellent Level 5 pass with a class led by lead Maths Tutor, Nicky McClean. Rasha was signposted to study with SAL by Woking College and has already achieved GCSE English, following courses at the Sythwood Children's Centre in Woking.

Rasha is a vibrant and confident learner, full of enthusiasm. She shared the challenge of preparing for the GCSE maths examination and said, "I felt like I was living two lives in one! I had to juggle my course work around the children and my family." She enjoyed the atmosphere of the classroom and the work schedule, which was made enjoyable by her tutor. Rasha mentioned the unique friendships that are made in the lead-up to the exam. The course is intense, as it is a two-year course condensed into one academic year. The curriculum included homework and mock exams so that SAL learners felt prepared and confident to face examination conditions. Rasha commended her tutor, saying: "she is not just a tutor – she is a special friend."

Her motivation and drive to succeed was two-fold. On one hand, Rasha wanted to help her children with new learning methods and devices in mathematics; and on the other, she wanted to obtain an accredited formal qualification in maths that would act as a springboard from her job as a teaching assistant to being a full-time employee with Surrey County Council.

Rasha is originally from Egypt and has lived in the United Kingdom for over seventeen years. Her new role as a family coordinator will play a key part in helping families from overseas – including Syrian refugees – settle and integrate into the community here. Rasha will guide and support families with various issues from immigration to social inclusion, working towards providing a better quality of life for Surrey residents. Her zest for life and joyful spirit will certainly inspire others.

Congratulations Rasha and welcome on board!

Vikki Ludlow – Paramedic in the making

Vikki was thrilled to achieve her GCSE in English and was awarded a respectable Level 4 in her subject. She showed resilience, travelling from Caterham to Guildford every week in order to complete the course, in spite of a working pattern that included night shifts! Vikki said that the class atmosphere was positive and SAL tutor, Sue Haigh was amazing! She met other learners from all walks of life and they shared their experience together with a "can-do" attitude. The group bonded in a very special way.

Though the course was no walk in the park and included lots of homework, with the support and guidance of SAL tutor, Sue Haigh the team got through and they are so proud!

Vikki required GCSE passes in both English and Maths to qualify for her bachelors degree in paramedic science which she is currently studying at St George's Hospital, Tooting.

Vikki said: "If you are thinking of doing a GCSE, don't think about it – just do it! You'll surprise yourself and inspire those around you."

Achieving a GCSE is so much more than a piece of paper. It is the result of commitment, self-belief, and personal investment. The results of achieving can include: improved self-esteem, confidence and better employment chances.

Well done Vikki – Surrey Adult Learning wishes you all the best in your career progression.

John Rouse – a generous retired gentleman giving back to the community

Mature learner, John, took GCSE Maths at the Camberley Centre and thoroughly enjoyed the learning journey with SAL. As a local resident of Camberley, he popped into the centre in person and extends a genuine thanks to the centre team who helped him to enrol on the course. The motivation behind John's decision to study a GCSE in maths during his retirement was initially inspired by the intention to help his grandchildren with their homework. He was proud to share that he really enjoyed returning to a classroom setting and was grateful to his tutor, Nicky McLean, saying, "She taught me to be meticulous and lay things out correctly." John said he had great fun learning maths. He likes to participate and his wife Margaret agreed that his retirement will always be purposeful. More recently, John has been appointed Treasurer of Camberley Care Trust and we are sure his arithmetic skills will come in handy!

Congratulations John.

Sam Turner- a learner overjoyed to beat the odds and turn his academic achievements around!

In just a year, learner Sam has taken both maths and English GCSE at the Guildford Centre. He passed both successfully, achieving Level 7 in English and Level 4 in maths. During this time Sam has held down his job and also got married!

His school life wasn't great as Sam did not achieve the academic results that he wanted. He struggled to manage school life and, sadly, one exclusion led to another and resulted in him leaving school at 15 with no qualifications. He went on to catering school and did well, as this was something he loved. For health reasons he had to quit the industry after ten years and he built the rest of his career through sheer hard graft.

The motivation driving Sam's endeavour with GCSE exams was to prove to himself that he could get the core base qualifications he missed out on at school, despite being told many times: "You aren't good enough."

Sam has an open mind and worked really hard to achieve good passes following the advice and mentoring of his tutors at SAL.

Many strong people have influenced Sam to change for the better and he is so grateful for that.

Today Sam works in consumer electronics and is advocating for progress for children with special needs in schools.

  • Updated: 31 May 2020