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Lifelong Learning Centre

You’re never too old to learn

Posted on Wednesday, 07 August 2019 at 11am
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
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This is a guest post from Katie Perry, a mature student who graduated from Leeds this summer with a Foundation Degree in Child and Family Studies and will be going on to study for a BA in Child and Family Studies from September 2019. 

I had wanted to return to education for a long time, I just lacked the confidence. I struggled at secondary school and left with some GCSEs but only one ‘good’ pass (a grade C). I then enrolled on an apprenticeship which entailed me working in a nursery for four days each week and spending one day each week at college.

Having completed an NVQ Level 2 I still struggled on the written side. Later on I completed a NVQ Level 3 and moved up two positions at work. The amount of paperwork I was required to complete increased and my struggles became more apparent. I had a test through work which led to my being diagnosed with dyslexia. At the age of 26 I had an answer as to why I had struggled. I was then supported by my employer and Jobcentre Plus to receive training on new equipment to support my written work in the workplace.

I went on to study Speech and Language through the Open College Network. Having my report helped my tutors to understand my struggles and how they could help me by preparing work which was suited to my disability.

One day some Learning Champions from the University of Leeds came into work to speak about their own experiences. One woman in particular seemed to ‘mirror’ my lifestyle in that she worked part-time, was a single parent to three children and had dyslexia. In that moment I knew that I would be able to apply and be accepted (something which I had never thought possible before).

The tutors and staff at the LLC have been so supportive in guiding and linking me up with the correct support. I also have some additional support though Disability Services at the University which has helped to fund newer equipment and provided one-to-one support.

I have now become a Learning Champion myself, and I hope to make others realise anything is possible with the right support. I have supported others in recognising they have difficulties and signposting them where needed. In some cases this has resulted in them been diagnosed with dyslexia and then gaining extra support from the University.

Two of my three sons have also been diagnosed with dyslexia as a result of me spotting similar tendencies to those I have, which has allowed them to get help and support sooner. Being diagnosed with dyslexia has also helped me to be aware of my learning styles and different ways of doing things. Along my journey I have been able to discuss my learning needs, which has taken away some of the difficulties which once hindered me.

I’ve not had an easy journey and it can take me three times as long to read something than a person without dyslexia, but I have begun to learn again in a style that is suited to my needs. I have discovered I enjoy reading – something I always shied away from in the past. I’ve recently completed a Foundation Degree in Child and Family Studies and will be going on to the BA in Child and Family Studies in September – as I tell others, you’re never too old to learn.

Categories: Academic Support, Achievements, Admissions, Blogging, Child and Family Studies, Graduation, Mature Students, Part-Time Students, Student Experience, Student Parents, Student Voices, Supporting Students, Widening Participation