My background is as a Further Education lecturer so I was used to having a wide cross-section of humanity in my classes but I had no idea when I began to teach English with Oxford Open Learning that my new tutor groups would be quite so diverse!
Like a lot of people I think assumed that those who did their A levels and GCSEs via a distance learning home study course were adults looking to expand on their qualifications to enable them to get to the next rung on the career ladder, or perhaps to make a change of career possible. Well yes, that as well, but so much more!
Open learning still works for adults who want to enhance their career possibilities but it also works for young adults who were not able to take full advantage of their time at school and for those who just want to find out more about what they’re really interested in.
I didn’t realise, though, how many young people have never been to a conventional school or have transferred to being home-educated at eleven and, of course when the time comes for them to look at external qualifications, open learning is ideal.
The area I didn’t really think about was those of school age who for various reasons find when they are adolescents that conventional school just does not suit them. This is a very varied group and can be those who have been bullied, or those who bully, those who are delicate physically or emotionally, those youngsters who find the social aspects of school difficult and those gifted or talented youngsters whose other pursuits such as sport or music take up a great deal of their time during the conventional school day.
The advantage of home education is the same as it always was, you can do it when it suits you, not when it suits a school or college, but the number and variety of those who find it works for them is ever expanding!
Ann Thomas has been teaching English to Oxford Open Leaning and Oxford Home Schooling students for the past ten years.