From education to employment

78 year old hopes to go on learning

An elderly grandmother and her fifty year old daughter have passed the UK’s only online English Language A-level taught at The Sheffield College.

Betty Allen, 78, and her daughter Chris Branton received a D and a C grade, respectively, today alongside other students. Both are enrolled at the college where they learnt online via personal tuition and class conferencing, having completed a similar online course in GCSE English only three years ago.

Betty, whose only previous qualification is the 11-plus which she passed at the outbreak of war in 1939, said: “I left school at the age of fifteen. I could have stayed an extra year but I was very shy and felt unable to face going to college so I left with no particular qualifications”.

And daughter Chris’s formative years were similarly blighted by setback. “My school days were horrors I try to forget. I didn”t do well academically because all my energy was taken up in making plans to escape the bullies at home time, break time and any other chance they got to taunt me or physically abuse me”.

Chris saw an advert for the online English GCSE course being offered by the college, and applied along with her mother. “We both really enjoyed doing the GCSE, especially the creative writing. I was able to write about my spell in the psychiatric unit when I was eighteen years old, the terrible depression that made me want to just die, and my son’s struggle with dyspraxia”.

Following a success at GCSE level, tutor Chris Allen urged the dynamic duo to take the next step and study for the English A-level. Daughter Chris said: “Mum and I discussed doing the A level and she said she was willing if I wanted to do it, although she felt she was getting too old!”

Initially, it was difficult for Chris to maintain her focus: “Eventually I started to do a bit now and again. The depression and anti depressants were making my thought process incredibly sluggish and it was very difficult to keep going. Time and again I was on the verge of giving up and my Mum and tutor kept saying, “you”ve done so well in getting this far you can”t give up now”!”

And good news for the Lifelong Learning sector, as Betty adds: “I feel that I have gained confidence in myself; I hope to go on learning for some years yet. I have always believed that old age had nothing to do with the years we live but with attitude of mind!”

In a joint statement released today as both students learnt of their results, they said: “We are absolutely delighted with our results – the online A-level English course at The Sheffield College has opened up so many doors for us. We are really excited to have passed such a demanding exam and to have got over so many barriers to be celebrating today”.

Congratulations from FE News!

Vijay Pattni.

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