It's never too late to learn

ADULT learning is nothing new nowadays. People change careers later on in life. They take refresher courses to keep up at work, or with their kids. But some still feel that there is a stigma attached to taking classes at a later stage. Nobel School s com

ADULT learning is nothing new nowadays.

People change careers later on in life. They take refresher courses to keep up at work, or with their kids.

But some still feel that there is a stigma attached to taking classes at a later stage. Nobel School's community learning projects include Keeping up with the Children English and maths courses at Timebridge Community Centre, Stevenage.

And Improve your Self Esteem and Confidence for adults and children will take place in the summer term at the centre.

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The idea behind this is providing a social environment without the perception of returning to the classroom.

They plan to run short courses in other areas so adults can try out different career options - cooking, DIY, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying and car maintenance.

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The school also joined with North Hertfordshire College in its Learn to Earn 10-week courses which give local people the chance to turn hobbies into careers.

At a recent maths class students appeared apprehensive about discussing their appearance there and some refused to reveal their identity.

But it was clear how much learning at a later age meant to them.

Donna Leinweber, 29, from Stevenage, has six children aged 12, 11, nine, six, four and eight months.

She managed to do the English class as well as the maths one while her partner watched the family.

She said: "I didn't learn much at school because I was too busy mucking about so I thought I'd give it a go."

Margaret Phillips, 45, from Stevenage is a success story as she was able to land a learning support assistant job at Round Diamond School in the town by going on the course.

She said: "I went on the first maths course and I found it really helpful.

"It gave me the confidence to apply for a job in a school, using numeracy and literacy.

"I had to sit a test and the questions they asked were the ones I'd been studying."

She added: "I hadn't been at work for 12 years so that was quite a big step.

"This has been incredibly useful in the work I'm now doing. Everything I cover I'm able to help the children with."

A 39-year-old Weston man, who refused to be identified, was the only male in the group.

He said: "I've recently qualified as a plumber, there's quite a lot of maths involved and I thought it would be a good idea to brush up on it. It's been extremely handy."

He was in remedial groups at school because he didn't want to go, but has found that maturity brings a thirst for learning.

He said: "You can be 45, 55, 65, but people are going to university in their 80s now.

"A lot of women get pregnant at an early age and when their kids get slightly older they can get back into it."

He added: "I think what they do here is fantastic, but you have to go when you're ready as they say.

"It would be good to get more guys involved. I'm not the only guy out there that's rubbish at maths."

And Claire Burningham, 40, from Wymondley who works in the infants' school there, believes that it suits some better to learn at a later stage.

She said: "I didn't have a qualification in maths when I left school.

I think as an adult you question more where that answer came from whereas a child you don't.

"As an adult you see things differently to a child. Before, you'd sit back because you're too embarrassed to say 'well how do you do this?'"

Alastair Craig, headteacher of Nobel School, said: "I am overjoyed at the extent to which the local community have embraced our courses.

"People are having fun, learning new things and being great role models for the young people at our school and our partner schools.

"At Nobel we are committed to building sustainable partnerships with providers that extend what we offer to the local community.

"In doing so, we believe that we can help create opportunities that develop the life chances of Nobel's students, their parents and local residents."

Some may be embarrassed to admit they attend the classes, but within those four walls they are being given another chance to learn, and it is obvious they are relishing every minute.

And it's not just the chance to escape the kids for a couple of hours and the ability to help them with homework that keeps them attending.

The bored teenager in them is banished and the adult finally appreciates the ability to add up.

And maturity plus desirability equals opportunity.

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