COMMENT: Breaking barriers to adult learning

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The start of a new year is often a time when we set out plans for the future and decide to make a change to some aspect of our lives.

It could be doing more exercise or learning something new. The question is, will we see these decisions through or is there something stopping us?

I wonder why many of our 5,000 adult learners at Chesterfield College decided to return to college this time last year. It could have been their New Year resolution to develop the skills they needed to change their career or to satisfy a yearning to start a new hobby.

I know life sometimes gets in the way and there is a whole raft of reasons why people put off re-starting their education. Let’s bust some myths about the barriers people perceive they face:

1) Will it cost too much?

Advanced learner loans are available for anyone 19 and over to cover course and exam fees, which you don’t pay back until you earn more than £21,000 a year. Alternatively, your employer might be happy to fund some of your learning if it is linked to your job.

2) Will I have enough time?

There are a range of flexible study options available which help you to juggle the demands of working, family life and studying. Take a look at some of the part-time learning programmes we have on offer at www.chesterfield.ac.uk/adult-part- time-evening

3) Have I left it too late?

Lifelong learning is vital to our mental and physical health. Free advice and guidance is available at the college to support you in a change of career or pursuing skills for a new interest. Call 01246 500500 to make an appointment.

4) Can I do it?

Yes you can! College is a really supportive environment where you’ll be welcomed. Support staff, tutors and fellow students provide a great network to help you achieve whatever you set out to do.

5) I disliked school, why would it be different this time?

Many of our adult learners come with this idea but soon realise the environment is worlds apart from school. The fact that you’re older and you’ll be the one choosing the subject you want to study makes a difference too.

I hope 2018 is the year to kick-start your learning. We’re here to help you do just that!