Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Kirsteen Hopkinson

Kirsteen Hopkinson, HM Naval Base Clyde

I was asked to write a story for a digital book as an inspirational learner and my learning journey so far, as I have been nominated for an inspiration award 2015.

My Name is Kirsteen Hopkinson. All my adult life I have had self – esteem issues and confidence problems due to bullying that took place in my teenage years. This has had an adverse effect on my education and personal life as I began self-harming at the age of twelve, which continued into my adulthood.

Life changed for me when I became redundant in August 2012, due to the recession in 2008. My working hours reduced which made life an emotional and financial struggle and comments from my career officer like, “Kirsteen, just be grateful you’ve got a job as you won’t come to much” has stayed with me for years.

However, since starting as a cleaner at Faslane Naval base in October 2012, I have been given the opportunity to learn new skills, gain new experiences and most importantly work on my issues, as throughout my working life I have moved from one dead end job to another, with no opportunity to develop as an individual or as part of an establishment.

With the full support of my family, friends and management, in particular managers Mark Berry, Mhairi Harris and Margaret Miller, I was introduced to the e- learning centre at Faslane, where I met tutors Sam, Sharon, Kate, Katie, Jenny and Dom. The facilities at Faslane are predominately used by the forces, however I wanted to progress and gain a career within Faslane, so as a civilian I decided to take full advantage of the service.

For me to progress into administration roles, I needed to gain a certificate in ECDL in computing with a small fee of £100 compared to university would have reached thousands. I learnt so much with ECDL, especially security. This is very informative, especially in today’s society, where it’s paramount to keep your computer protected and safe from everyday malware.

To my amazement, I thoroughly enjoyed my learning and my tutors would tell me, “You have the learning bug.” For me it was a new sensation. My confidence grew and I began to feel better about myself and my future.

Working in Faslane enabled me to complete my ECDL, and with family financial support I was able to purchase my first computer. With continued support, I strived to improve my confidence. I became more enthusiastic, and hungry to learn. With so much improvement in my life, I no longer felt the need to self-harm. For my efforts I was rewarded a recommendation from RSM Royal Marines 43 commando for my hard work, and I continued to apply for admin jobs within Babcock, hoping to put my ECDL qualification, determination, and increased confidence to good use.

I wanted to give back and help promote e-learning so with the support from my tutors, I was given the opportunity to appear in the company’s magazine, ‘Clydewide’ to encourage my colleagues to take on the opportunity to learn new skills and build confidence.

In November 2014 I applied for a Compliance Administrator role advertised on the company website. The job consisted of maintaining eight thousand documents within the management system where policies, processes and procedures to facilitate the customer and management were retained.

When it came to the interview stage, with my confidence in one hand and my ECDL qualification in the other, I tried to sell myself and my skills and later was then offered the job. I started on 5th Jan 2015.

Whilst continuing to work and study I have found a new respect for maths and I have found myself enjoying division, multiplication and fractions. With fractions, when simplifying the answer can be in your times tables or use the format of dividing the numerator with the denominator. I found that, if I can understand maths, I can achieve anything, so much so I have begun Functional Skills level 1 in English and with this hopefully in the future I can begin an S.V.Q in administration and business. The sky is definitely the limit when it comes to adult learning. However, ‘I won’t rest on my laurels’ with my new job as I will continue to learn with the e-learning centre. Look at it this way: if I can achieve all I have achieved in a few short years, what else can I achieve? What we all can learn from this is that, if I can do it, so can you. If you are a person reading this considering about adult learning, I will leave you with this thought…

”Challenge yourself with something you know you could never do, and what you’ll find is that you can overcome anything.”

Tutor Perspective: Samantha Sherwin

Kirsteen began her learning journey on 19th August 2013 where she enrolled on ECDL level 1 and level 2. She methodically worked through level 1 and achieved good results throughout her practice tests and final exams. Kirsteen completed and achieved her level 1 before her agreed programme end date. Kirsteen moved onto level 2 and again achieved good results throughout. She embraced learning and loved every second of it. As we said to Kirsteen, “you have the learning bug” and this was confirmed when upon completion of her ECDL level 2 on 27th March 2014 she enrolled on her Functional Skills maths on 7th May 2014”.

During Kirsteen’s maths she struggled with a few areas but with focus and determination plus one-to-one tuition, she overcame these hurdles and happily passed her maths level 1 in January 2015.

Kirsteen has now embarked on her Functional Skills English level 1 and is working her way through the learning for this.

She is an inspiration to anyone wanting to improve their skills and who thinks they haven’t the confidence to progress. Being Kirsteen’s e-learning advisor is a delight for she is like a sponge and cannot get enough information!


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