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Adult education for someone who skipped secondary school...

(20 Posts)
Ladyfoxglove Mon 18-Aug-14 16:08:51

... and now regrets it.

I'm posting this on behalf of a friend who skipped a great deal of her secondary education (largely from the age of 14 to 16) and now, at the age of forty four, feels that her return to work is hindered by said lack of education.

Are there any secondary teachers out there who can recommend a course of action to remedy her situation? She is bright and motivated but uneducated and frightened of being judged I think, hence her reticence in rectifying the situation herself.

Does anyone have any experience of anyone in a similar situation?

OldLadyKnowsSomething Mon 18-Aug-14 16:56:38

I'm not a teacher, but has she looked at her local college? They might run "return to education" type courses. Or start with evening classes? It's the right time of year...

smokepole Mon 18-Aug-14 17:07:52

Hi Lady.

I am 40 and in asimilar situation to your friend, basically left school in 1990 with 4 D grades and 1 E grade at GCSE . I had not done any study for 23 years until I signed on for an Open University Access Course, I have done quite 'well' on it so have enrolled for a Degree in Social Science.

You need to ask your friend what she enjoys doing and what areas, she feels that she has some 'Knowledge' in. I would say try an Access Course with the Open University, the main reason being that it helps you gain confidence and that there is no one to compare yourself to.

It is a huge step, going back in to education after such a long time especially if you had such had negative experience of education. A lot of posters on here have benefited from high quality educations and 'even though they say they understand' they don't. The last thing in the world your friend wants is to be seen as 'thick' or uneducated. Lady your friend has been able to develop a coping strategy to get though her work life, but undoubtedly feels she is to blame for her education. The truth is your friend was 'failed' by the system and the reason for her truancy was most probably down to fear of being labeled as ' Thick'.

smokepole Mon 18-Aug-14 17:11:49

A few Mistakes. If you had such negative experiences of education.

Ladyfoxglove Mon 18-Aug-14 17:31:20

Thanks for replying everyone. Sorry to hear that you are in a similar position smokepole - that must be difficult for you.

I suggested access courses but she didn't seem keen and I think it's the fear of being judged that stops her from doing anything. I think she would like to study privately at home either on-line or with a tutor or with a set course of books. This may be prohibitively expensive though and unrealistic.

She is in no way 'thick' or stupid and can hold her own very well with most people I would say but she has huge gaps in her knowledge of say, geography, history and biology. Her reason for truanting was bullying sadly.

My mother used to have a set of books called 'The Complete Home Educator' and I wondered if this type of thing still existed (not in book format obviously). If she can motivate herself to set aside regular study time, this may be an option perhaps.

BoffinMum Mon 18-Aug-14 21:08:25

The OU run a lot of free online courses, via their OpenLearn scheme.


I would pick one of those, if I were her, and see how she gets on. If it's too difficult, then get back to me and I will suggest a plan B.

LIZS Tue 19-Aug-14 09:50:26

Does she have any qualifications ? She could approach local FE college about Level 1/Level 2 English and Maths , sometimes called Functional Skills or Literacy/Numeracy, and ask if there is a particular route/course for mature students or e-learning, supported by a tutor. Up to Level 2/GCSE should be free if she hasn't achieved those already.

If she has a particular job in mind there are other providers of Level 1/2 qualifications in subjects such as Health and Social Care, Childcare, Support Worker in Schools (TA), Customer Service etc specifically for adults. She could look online at accreditors such as NCFE and City and Guilds who would list those delivering their courses in her area, ask the LA Adult Education department or other organisations such as the WEA (Workers' Educational Association) who run courses in the community and at children's centres including accredited qualifications and short courses designed to ease people in your friend's situation back into learning and work.

tobysmum77 Tue 19-Aug-14 16:47:44

I would point her in the direction of the national careers advice. I am hopeless at links but Google it! They should be able to point her in a sensible direction. The issue with random courses is that they won't always lead you to what you want.

tobysmum77 Tue 19-Aug-14 16:48:22

national careers service hmm

smokepole Tue 19-Aug-14 16:53:51


This is an idea, I have thought of , How about letting her have a go at some of the 11+ tests online . It helped me to get back in to learning and can help with 'basic' or higher than that Maths and English. The Essex CSSE site is very good for instance and offers papers in English and Maths. There are other sites introducing how English can make sense and help with sentence construction.

The sites as well as the CSSE papers have results and explanations , your friend could have a number of goes at each test and get better results each time. The result would be each time ,a little bit more confidence would come
to her . These sites are mostly free of charge and could set her on a path to learning , 'incidentally' the CSSE papers are certainly higher than Level 1.

Ladyfoxglove Tue 26-Aug-14 12:39:15

Thanks Smokeple that's a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. She went back at sixteen and passed her CSEs (exams prior to GCSEs) and got good grades (C and above) which says a lot considering she didn't attend the classes! She would like to become a teaching assistant I think or some other learning based type work.

NapoleonsNose Tue 26-Aug-14 12:49:09

She really doesn't need to feel that she will be judged on an Access course. I did one prior to my degree five years ago and there was a real mix of people on the course who, for one reason or another, compulsory education had failed them. No-one judged anyone as we all had equally valid and differing reasons for being there. We also gave each other massive support when parts of the course where tough going. Why not suggest she goes along to visit the local college to see what its actually like before writing it off?

Mutteroo Wed 27-Aug-14 04:19:27

Smokepole, I've just completed an OU access course and start my degree this October. Will be doing Social Psychology. I went to evening classes some years ago to gain better grades in English and Maths so I also know how the OP's friend must feel as I also skipped much of my senior school years.

Ladyfoxglove, a friend who is a teaching assistant, has been doing courses in Maths & English for the past couple of years. She originally went on an English course run by her local college, this latest maths course is run by her local library. To become a teaching assistant (or get another TA job) your friend will need at least a level 2 qualification in maths & English. This is equivalent to GCSE grade C. My friend has struggled with maths all her life and she tells me her class is full of those in the same boat. These courses are free.

As someone else mentioned the OU and other organisations do lots of online courses nowadays, but I know some prefer to have a class to attend each week to have the camaraderie from fellow pupils. I know when I took my maths and English classes, there was a range of ages and occupations. It's daunting to restart something like education when you may have had a poor experience in the past. There's so many who feel the same way as your friend yet once you start it can completely fulfil you. (It has for me).

Best of luck to your friend and I hope she finds something that works for her.

sashh Wed 27-Aug-14 07:30:35

Has she looked at any 'employability' courses?

They are usually free and are aimed at people who are long term unemployed. I have taught a couple and they are a good first step.

One I taught linked to the local hospital so you did a couple of level 1 units in employability, a food hygiene certificate and I think a manual handling cert (I taught the employability not the others).

Yes they are aimed at getting people in to work but they also give you a feel for study as an adult and last 1 or 2 weeks.

smokepole Thu 28-Aug-14 08:59:32

Incidentally I printed the out CSSE English 2008 (Past paper) and Maths 2007 (past paper) and had a go at both papers, I scored 38/45 on Maths and 36/50 on English =74 out of 95 77%. no practice attempts.

Its worth a try as it is not as 'straightforward' as people may think, particularly the 'English' which must be close to level 2 I.E Grade C standard.

DeWee Thu 28-Aug-14 11:40:54

My uncle left school at 16 with a smattering of poor CSEs. He went back to night class to do specifically English and Maths in his late 40s and found he quite enjoyed learning after all, and there were a lot of similar people in his class, so she wouldn't be judged by them.

toomuchicecream Tue 02-Sep-14 17:25:50

Tell her about my sister in law. Similar secondary school experience ie didn't go much, so she says and left with no qualifications. Many years later she was made redundant and so spent her pay off on an access course. Then she did a degree. Then a masters. She's now in her early 50s and is about to complete her PhD. Not bad for someone who left school with nothing!

smokepole Tue 02-Sep-14 17:44:46

Toomuch. That's a story I can get some hope from as well . I don't know whether I will get a 'meaningful' career at '46' or so , but whatever should I succeed I will gain huge satisfaction.

nlondondad Wed 03-Sep-14 21:46:50

She should talk to the local regional office of the OU. You do not need any formal qualifications at all to register with the OU, and they will help and advise.

forago Sun 05-Oct-14 10:56:08

A friend of mine was in a similar position in her mid forties. Over the past 2/3 years she has done English then maths GCSE (had neither before I think), then a bookkeeping course. Is now working as a bookkeeping assistant to an accountant and really enjoying it. The difference to her self esteem is noticeable. As is her gaining some financial independence. I know she posts on here so hope she won't mind me posting about this - I found it impressive and inspirational to see some one make such a positive change in their lives over a relatively short period of time.

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