Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A Visitor to our Friday Class!

We had a visitor to our Friday Basic Skills Class, this was an interesting time and we asked them to write about what they thought of the class. Chris talked to the members who were taking part and this is what she wrote. SAP runs a basic skills class and has done so for the last 3 years This class is very different from all the other groups that SAP runs where people can come and go as they wish. This is a structured class that meets weekly with each person setting their own learning goals and outcomes. This activity is very intensive and consequently is only open to a limited number of participants who commit themselves to attending regularly – the participants have set these rules. All the people coming to the class have been through the education system including spending many years attending local colleges and other institutions. However they all feel that they have failed, that the system has failed them or both. For some, they could not read or they could not write. Some had a little reading and writing ability but had severely reduced vocabulary. Most felt that they could not use their skills however wide or limited to make sense of the world around them. The little skill that some people had was seen as something separate and not as a practical skill but something ‘special’. All were very frustrated, disenfranchised, lacking in self confidence and generally very sad. In 2007 we got a small grant from Norfolk Community Foundation to pay for meeting space, equipment and tutor fees. This enabled us to buy text books, reading books and writing aids such as an illuminated magnifier, shaped writing implements, personal record books and rough work books. Participants confidence is gradually increasing to the extent that at the end of 2007 nine members took part in the exam set by the Open College Network Level One Developing Personal Development Skills – all nine people passed and have also each gained 3 credits. Some members have identified very specific goals and outcomes for themselves. These range from knowing the alphabet and the different names and sounds that each letter makes, to being able to control the hand enough to make clear letters, to being able to read after the devastating effects of a stroke. This last person came to SAP wanting to re-learn reading and she made good progress. Earlier this year she was persuaded by her health professional that she should really be going to a specialist stroke support group. After an absence of two months she has returned saying that SAP treats her as a whole person not an illness and she has resumed her steady progress in reading. Two members had identified that they wanted to try to take ‘a real exam’. They have been studying hard for the last two years and at the beginning of October took their mock exam in Key Skills level 1 and 2 English and passed. The pass mark is 28 out of 40 and they passed with scores of 32 and 35 so will be entered shortly for their examinations.

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