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Case Study: Careconnect Learning in the NHS


In May this year, hospital porter Andrew Davidson achieved the title "keenest learner" in the NIACE adult learner's week awards. Having left school at 15, he is now on his 11th course through CareConnect Learning, which offers computer courses for staff in the health and social care sectors. Kathleen Miller, Andrew's tutor, hopes that his story will be an inspiration to other low-skilled workers to get back to learning.

I was assigned as Andrew Davidson's tutor back in the early summer of 2003. I first met Andy at his home overlooking Dover harbour, where he lives with his wife, children and pets.

Andy was forced to leave school at 15 without any qualifications, and had not taken up any learning opportunities since then. Andy is a UNISON member and works as a porter at Buckland Hospital in Dover, part of East Kent Hospitals Trust.

He first enrolled on a learndirect Word Skills Check diagnostic with Careconnect Learning in June 2003 when he attended a Careconnect open day in the staff canteen.

He explained: “I went along with my mate John. I’d never done computers before – I’ve never really been interested. I left school at 15 and then got into the habit of thinking I was too old to learn. But I got talking to a couple of people on the stand and then signed up… I’ve been hooked ever since!”

After completing the skills check and giving Andy feedback, I worked with him in building his personal learning plan. Andy told me that he would like to improve his literacy and IT skills with a view to improving his career prospects.

Since our first meeting, Andy has completed 10 courses with Careconnect Learning. I have been Andy's course tutor throughout this period and he has never ceased to amaze me with his enthusiasm and ability to remain focused on his courses.

For almost two years, Andy has kept in constant communication with me via e-mail informing me of his progress and reasons for gaps in his learning progression - including work demands, illness and computer problems.

As a learner, Andy has been a true inspiration to me as a tutor. No matter what life throws at him, he remains steadfast in his determination, and his character shines through in his ability to take advice and corrections without losing motivation.

I recently nominated Andy for the NIACE Adults Learners Week Award for Individuals 2005, and although competition was stiff, his determination was recognised and he won!

This is the message I received from Andy when he had found that he had won the Award:

“Just to let you know that I've won the Award for NHSU Individual, South East Region. I'm really over the moon - I never really thought that I had a chance, being as there must be hundreds who were nominated. I can't thank you enough for putting me forward.”

Congratulations to Andy and all his hard work; I hope his story inspires others to take up lifelong learning opportunities – it really could change your life.

In Andy’s words: “It’s not as hard as you think and it really opens up doors for you. It’s another world you can get into – there’s lots out there you don’t realise that’s around.

"Most of the jobs I have done have been labouring – I’ve never had anything where I’ve had to use my brain. Doing the courses has given me much more confidence.

"Never say you’re too old to try anything. My two kids used to come home with school work to do on the computer. I didn’t understand it, but I now know more than they do!"


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