Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Chris Nicholls

Chris Nicholls, Buckinghamshire Adult Learning

The first time I sat in the training room I couldn’t say anything. By the second workshop I felt able to ask some questions. Now I don’t shut up. Since completing the course and winning the award (Festival of Learning) I’ve done assemblies in front of five hundred people. I’ve done radio, spoken at the awards ceremony and spoken to the training team at Buckinghamshire Adult Learning. I couldn’t have done it without Alan.

It was both of us who did it.; we worked together. He believed in me and had so much patience. I remember him sitting with me explaining what the questions on the mock exam meant, explaining it to me. Once I understood what they were asking me to do, I found it so much clearer and I could do it. He changed my life for the better. I’ve got belief in myself. I finally believe I’m not stupid.

The learning I did has changed family life as well as work. Big changes. I’ve got a purpose. I think I can do things now. I don’t let people tell me I can’t do things because I’ve done it – I’ve already achieved! Now I want to keep doing it and achieve more. I want to keep on learning.

I’m not just a number any more; now I’m someone who counts. People come to me to ask me things. Children at school come to see me and there’s respect there. I now help them out with reading, which for someone like me with dyslexia is such a good feeling. I want to help them like Alan helped me.

I can’t forget the day I got my award. Apart from my children being born, it was one of the most special days of my life.

The difference for me is the confidence it gives you. You can show people that no matter how stupid you think you are, you can learn and you can achieve.

I don’t just want to be a caretaker any more. I want to do more. Onwards and upwards!

Tutor Perspective: Alan Hester

I need to say to begin with that I am not a literacy tutor! I was Chris’s tutor for a management qualification that he completed last year. As the course was funded through an adult apprenticeship route it included English, maths and ICT Functional Skills; all of which had to be achieved if Chris were to achieve his framework qualification.

I had already worked with him to achieve a Team Leading NVQ two years previously, during which time he told me that he was dyslexic and had not achieved at school as a result. Therefore when he and his employers applied for the higher level, I explained that he would need to do some English tests. His response was that if I would help him then he would do whatever was necessary in order to pass them. With that attitude, I was more than happy to agree to help.

I can honestly say that working with Chris and seeing the transformation in him has been a highlight of my current role. Chris has been generous in his praise for my part in his success, but it couldn’t have happened without his attitude and commitment.

Chris clearly loves learning. He has taken so much on board during the programme, in particular listening and communication skills, and is proving himself to be a very good people manager. In the process he has tackled English, maths and ICT with the same determination and, I have to say, pleasure. He’s right when he says that we worked together, and in the process I’ve also learnt from him. Every trainer loves to find that ‘breakthrough’ moment for a learner, and he was an obvious choice for me to recommend for an Adult Learner of the Year Award.


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