For many young people across Britain, the past couple of weeks have been a nervy, exciting time. After exam results landed, a huge number are now busy planning their future at college or university. For others, first steps on their working life beckons.
But what happens to those who never got the chance to finish their education at all? Or for those who were let down, failed by a system there to build for the future?
A unique college is offering people the opportunity to have another run – to make a success of learning second time around.
The National Extension College is set up to reach people and places the rest of the education system cannot
The National Extension College (NEC) provides adults of all ages and backgrounds the chance to embark on GCSEs and A Levels, as well as a wide range of vocational and business courses. And Big Issue vendors and Britain’s prisoners are among the often left-behind groups able to take advantage of the opportunity to gain much-needed qualifications.
Set up to reach people and places the rest of the education system can’t – including prisons – the NEC allows would-be learners to sign up for online courses. Based in Cambridge, the distance-learning charity provides course materials and the tutors to help students through the work remotely, keeping in touch by email or Skype.
“If you left school without any qualifications, for whatever reason, it needn’t be the end of your education,” says the NEC’s chief executive Dr Ros Morpeth, who describes herself as a “second-chance learner”, having gone to university as a mature student. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”