West Notts College salutes adult learners

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WHEN most folk leave school in their late teens, they never believe they’ll make a return to the classroom several decades later.

But that is the case for many adult learners of all ages and backgrounds who have returned to lessons to take up new activities and learn fresh skills.

And to celebrate the variety of opportunities available for adult learners, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) is leading the 20th Adult Learners’ Week – which is being marked by West Notts College this week. The college is running free activities in partnership with Mansfield’s Four Seasons Centre on Friday, where folk will be able to try their hand at archaeology, Egyptology, sugar craft, card craft and computing from 10am-2pm in the centre’s former Bay Trading unit.

The session will be on a ‘drop-in’ basis, with information about full-time, part-time and higher education courses available.

One Mansfield woman who has benefited from returning to the classroom in later life is Susan Walker.

For when she hit 60, she believed retirement would bring relaxation and occasional travel abroad with her husband and the classic lifestyle of someone who has retired.

She never believed she would be back at college studying for a GCSE.

Said Susan: “My son went to university and suggested that I ought to get back into studying as he’d enjoyed it so much. I was unsure at first – having not studied since my school days when I left with my English literature and French GCEs.

“I began by writing to West Notts College to see what courses it had that might interest me. I was invited in and eventually I settled on studying English Language.

She soon settled into the course - even though the majority of other students were teenagers - and eventually got a Grade A in the subject.

“It was my son who first suggested I study a GCSE and I believe that studying later in life has been really worthwhile.

“Coming back to college really did me good. It’s given me such confidence and my computer skills have come on leaps and bounds too. I have a fresh energy and it’s keeping my brain active.”

Now aged 62, Susan is nearing the end of her AS level in English literature which she has enjoyed as much as the GCSE course.

“I’ve read so many books that I wouldn’t have thought of reading beforehand and I’ve really loved the wider reading part of the course and learning poetry.”

And Susan, who will be sitting her exams in the next few weeks, said: “I’m not nervous of the exams and I think that’s because I’ve enjoyed the course – it’s not a chore so there’s no pressure. I am looking forward to a year’s break and then I think I’ll be looking to study again because I will miss coming to college.”