Learner success stories

Your views are important to us

Below is a collection of comments and feedback from learners, clients, volunteers and community providers.

If you would like to share your learning experiences with us, and have your story published to help inspire more people to take advantage of our free services for adults in Hackney, please get in touch.

Feedback from learners

Emmanuel Opoku - Education Advice Client, now studying Chemistry at Imperial College London

"I found out about the Adult Education Service at the Hackney Learning Trust through the Careers Advisers and Sixth Form Liaison Officer at my old school, which was Mossbourne Academy.

I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who is seeking advice on higher education for example, or any adult learning course, because it was very helpful, and it gave me a sense of direction when I was feeling directionless.

I wanted to go to University because I was always interested in challenging myself, and with Science I am challenged in terms of problem solving - I always loved solving problems as a child - and University was the best place to further my education.

Currently I'm studying at Imperial College London doing Chemistry, and I'm loving it.

I think the most important thing about higher education is that it opens up your horizons, and it puts you into a different world. In Hackney, it's difficult to realise that there's a whole Pharmaceuticals industry. It helps you travel around and meet new people. For me it's opened up so many bridges.

Two years ago, in the Gambia, I was volunteering in a hospital, and that was because of Imperial College - they had a project in Gambia, and I was there helping as a Lab Assistant for one of the PhD students. Without Science, or the prospect of going to University, I don't think I would have been able to travel to a country like Gambia."

Tamara Steer - Education Advice Client

"My life situation was very basic - just being a single Mum, bringing up three children. Before starting education that was it for me.

I found out about the advice service because of enrolling my children in school and having to come to Hackney Learning Trust. Education is important, especially in Health and Social Care, which is what I was interested in. It helped me to look at my life positively, knowing that I can be whoever I want to be; that your career is important in bringing up a family, and also maintaining yourself as an adult for your children to look up to, and for other people to look up to.

I liked that you could get the support that you needed at Hackney Learning Trust, including childcare services, because I have a young son and I needed a place for childcare while I was going to College.

I'd definitely recommend the advice service, because it helps people to bring out their full potential regarding where they want to be in life regardless of their age."

Marina Soto Alonso - ESOL Entry 2 student

“I did secondary school in Spain but didn’t finish the last year because my mother died and I had to work. I’ve lived here [in the UK] for a long time – maybe 23 years. I’ve started ESOL classes before but never finished because my son is disabled and he couldn’t cope in crèche. And then rules changed so I couldn’t get free ESOL class as I wasn’t getting benefit. Now I claim for my son, I can come again. This is the first year I have completed.

Now I can use the present and the past [tense]. I’m not always right but I know the difference. If I went out before and something happened with my son I’d be quiet, but now I don’t care – I will speak to anybody. I feel more confident.

I want to progress onto the exam course, but more verbs and tenses is what I want to learn. I want to improve my writing. I’ve lived here for 23 years but I’ve never learned verb forms properly. Now I am learning but it is difficult because I learnt wrong.

The teachers are good and have patience to explain. We can ask lots of questions.”

Olivea Rose McDonald-Smith - Functional Maths Entry 2 & ICT Entry 3 student

“I came from Jamaica in 1964 and worked as a Care Assistant. I’m also a qualified chef. I worked in BSix College but was made redundant and decide to fulfil my dreams to fully understand mathematics and ICT. It is good for me and my community.

I know staff from Age UK and I am always going to the drop-in sessions. They recommended me to join the Mathematics and ICT courses. The Maths tutor taught us Money Management at one of her classes. This was very useful as I live on £150 a week. The ICT tutor also filled gaps in my knowledge. I started with him from the very foundation ability to this stage of Entry 3.

I would love to take these courses to the very highest level I can. I had never had the chance to really develop myself before. I have the hunger, drive and ability to listen, learn and achieve. Given the chance, I believe I will do all of them because since I have started I haven’t taken time off. I could be called upon to teach people that have needs like me. Knowing my needs I certainly understand theirs.”

Shonner Pieternella - Functional English Entry 2 student

Shonner had not taken part in any education since she left school in Jamaica at the age of 15 to have a child. She spent the next 27 years bringing him up. She was nervous about going back into education after such a long period of time.

Good progress was made once Shonner settled into the flow of studying. She enjoyed setting goals and challenging her own limits.

By the end of the course, Shonner had progressed well and gained confidence. She was able to give a presentation about her country where she wore a hat with Jamaican colours and played Bob Marley music. She learned how to plan to write, proof read her own work, write compound sentences and gained overall confidence in her spelling. Shonner will now progress onto the next level of study in Functional English.

"BH" - ITQ Level 2 & Functional Maths Level 1 student

BH is aged 24 and has suffered from a number of mental health issues such as depression, agoraphobia, and social anxiety since childhood. Many of these issues arose during late primary/early secondary education and have resulted in an intermittent dependence on prescription drugs. BH’s close family members also have a range of mental health issues and are unable to offer the support needed.

BH was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at primary school. He hated secondary school: “my experience was horrible and felt alone and isolated”. He left school aged 12 with limited education and the knowledge he has is self-taught. As a consequence of this and mental health issues, consistent employment has not been possible and has been limited to the odd short periods of work or voluntary jobs.

BH finds it difficult to deal with large crowds, buses, classes, offices all of which make life difficult for him. One important factor in BH’s life is his young 4 year old daughter. He has limited access to his daughter but she is a significant factor in his desire and effort to conquer mental health issues and improve his employability.

BH was introduced to City and Hackney MIND through Lifeline and at that time described himself as “feeling aimless, going nowhere, de-motivated and depressed”. He continued, “I thought I was wasting people’s time and found it hard to ask for help. I started at MIND and it felt safe so I decided to stick with it”.

BH has made fantastic progress in his studies at MIND. He says, “I always feel scared at the start of a course but soon begin to enjoy it”. He continues, “I have come out of my shell at MIND and although lacking confidence I have discovered I am more able than I thought I was."

Whilst at MIND, BH has attained Level 1 and 2 ITQ and discovered that he enjoys and has an aptitude for working with computers. He is also doing well in Maths, and although he lacks many basic skills he is able to use his own methods to complete problems and has successfully passed exams at Entry 2 and 3 level. He is currently studying Level 1 Functional Maths. He says, “I enjoy studying at MIND because the classes are smaller. Everyone is equal and gets a say.” BH would like to progress to GSCE level with his Maths studies to support doing a PC maintenance/upgrade course (ITT). He continues, “I want to carry on my studies, be happy and confident and become more self-assured.”

BH is an enthusiastic learner who is keen to study and socialise, the latter being a big step forward. He says, “I like the challenges and enjoy being extended.” He also enjoys helping other learners and found that he has empathy and the ability to support and teach others.


Adult Learning Services

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This page was last modified on: 3 Jul 2020