As the summer draws to a close and children get ready for their return to school, bosses at Manchester Adult Education Service are reaching out to adults across the city to remind them that learning is for everyone no matter what your age.
Hot on the heels of their Ofsted inspection report published in early August that saw inspectors grade every aspect of the service Good, adults of all ages across the city who are looking to upgrade their skills or qualifications are invited to have a look and see what's on offer.
The service has over three thousand adult learners studying at centres throughout the city, with most learners studying courses in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), digital skills, English, maths, early years, and health and social care.
The benefits of studying with MAES are many with learners reporting improved confidence and happiness as well as routes into employment and further training.
One learner who has been helped into work after taking courses with MAES is 41-year-old Ioana Hayder from north Manchester. Originally from Romania, the mum of three is celebrating having recently secured a job with Manchester Libraries as a Library Assistant after taking courses to improve both her English and maths.
A good student when she was at school in Romania, when she arrived in Manchester, she found spoken English here very different from what she had learnt in school.
She said: "I thought I could speak English but then when we arrived, I didn't understand what people were saying to me. I used to dread speaking on the phone, I was terrified of having to call people like the doctors because I didn't understand properly what they were saying and was scared of trying to make myself understood."
With no friends or other family here and a young baby, coupled with the pressures of repeated lockdowns during Covid, the mum of three decided she needed to do something to improve her language skills and so she enrolled on a Level 2 English Language skills course with MAES.
She said: "At MAES you really focus on what you're learning. There are no distractions, and everyone who is on the course is there because they want to be - they're not being forced to be there. It was a really good experience for me, I've made friends through the course and it's been great."
As well as completing her Level 2 English qualification Ioana also decided to improve her maths and completed a Level 1 Maths course, after which she went on to also successfully complete a Level 2 Maths course.
She said: "Maths had always been like a horror story to me - I just didn't understand it, my brain was blocked to maths, I just didn't get it. But if you have a good teacher - like I did here in Manchester, it makes a one hundred per cent difference. I started doing it and the teacher was brilliant, and I suddenly thought this is not so difficult after all and I passed my Level 1 and after that I also did Maths Level 2 and passed that. So suddenly I am becoming like a maths genius after not getting it at all before! It's great, and I'd like to go on and do my GCSE maths at some point."
The learning hasn't stopped there for Ioana. This year has seen her sit her GCSE English Language exam - for which she was thrilled to find out on GCSE results day last week that she had been awarded a Grade 7; she has completed a Digital Skills Level 1 course; and she has also taken part in a special focus week organised by MAES on getting a job - how to find a job, different kinds of employment, interview skills, and how to write a good CV.
She said: "This was a very good course and I recommend it to everyone. I used to be terrified of job interviews, but after doing the course I felt much more confident about them, and I think it really helped me to get my job at the library."
Ioana firmly believes adult education is for everyone and that it's never too late to go back to learning, and so strong is her belief in this that she has even started to work as a volunteer with MAES - helping tutors out in the classroom to explain things to other learners.
She said: "Adult Education isn't just for people with no English, it's for everyone who wants to improve their skills and their knowledge and to get a better job. It's never too late - your age doesn't matter, it doesn't come into it - you will learn things that will help you and it could help you to get a job, or help you to do some volunteering like I do which is also a really good way of improving your skills."
Registration for courses beginning this Autumn is open from 4 September. Adults interested in signing up for courses need to book themselves an appointment via the MAES website with a MAES advisor who will talk with them about the courses on offer and take them through the sign-up process.
Councillor John Hacking Executive Member for Skills, Employment, and Leisure, Manchester City Council, and Chair of Manchester Adult Education Service Board, said:
"As the cost-of-living crisis bites we're more determined than ever to do what we can to help people through it, and Manchester Adult Education Service has a key role in this.
"It has a lot to offer that can really help adults of all ages and all abilities to learn and through this to earn. Whether it's improving your basic skills in maths or English, upgrading your digital skills, or help with CV writing and interview techniques, there's lots of support available and who knows - taking a course with MAES could be the start of a bright new future, not just for you but for your whole family."
Find out more about the courses on offer through MAES and book an appointment with an advisor here