Success knows no age: Adult learners excel in GCSE results

Education / Thu 7th Sep 2023 at 07:09am

EACH year, Harlow College sees around 500 adults retake their English and Maths and this year’s cohort have again earned some excellent results.

Many of these successful adult learners are poised to embark on exciting new challenges including university, teacher training qualifications or progression within their existing careers, while all the time effectively managing work commitments and personal responsibilities alongside their studies.

Our adult evening class learners studying GCSE Maths and English did exceptionally well. For maths 79% of students gained a grade 4 or above compared the national figures of 37.4% and for English 69% gained a grade 4 or above compared to the national figure of 45.6%. 

English and Maths are essential qualifications as the majority of employers and universities look for at least GCSE grade 4 in either subject. Achieving these qualifications increases confidence and motivation and the skills gained will aid you in the workplace or any further learning. Typically, having grade 4 or above in GCSE English and Maths will earn you £2,000 a year more than those without the equivalent qualification.

For many learners, the encouragement of family, friends, and their college tutors has played a pivotal role in their journey.

Among the many successful learners who achieved great results today were:

Caroline Parmenter, 47, from Harlow

GCSE Maths Grade 4

What made you decide to re-take your GCSE?

I want to become a teacher and I already have my degree. I got a first last year in Early Childhood Education but I needed the GCSE to do the initial teacher training. I retook my Maths and my Biology GCSE at Harlow College.

What made you choose Harlow College to retake your GCSE? 

The College offers funding for the GCSE if you are over a certain age and don’t have the qualification. That was a big factor for me and I also chose the College because they offered the GCSE and not just the Functional Skills Level.

How did you find studying on the course? 

Maths is not my thing, I was really dubious and I suffer from anxiety. I’ve always had a fixed mindset that I can’t do Maths. I was out of my comfort zone but I did it so I was quite proud of myself for doing that! Our tutor Michael was really brilliant and he fought my corner. I got an E in my original exam so I thought I might have to do Functional Skills instead but I was able to appeal to do the GCSE and I got in on a trial basis and stayed! The way Michael taught, he made me look at the problems in a different perspective. 

In the end I was looking forward to my Tuesday night class not just because I was enjoying the Maths but because of the social side as well. You get to meet people on the course that are in the same boat as you. Michael was very encouraging and was happy to explain things in a different way and it really helped me. I got a 4 so I jumped up 2 grades from 30 odd years ago when I took my exams so I’m really proud of what I’ve done and really grateful on how the class went and how I found it.

What are your next steps?

I’ve been studying for a few years now so I’m taking a year out of study to have a year of working. I’ll be applying for initial teacher training in September 2024.

A message to other adults:

Just go for it and take that leap of faith! I have a saying that ‘You don’t regret the things you do, you regret the things you haven’t.’

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1 Comment for Success knows no age: Adult learners excel in GCSE results:

Luke Burton
2023-09-08 06:40:37

Great achievement. Balancing studying with other responsibilities as an adult is difficult.

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