Adult Achievement Awards are praised

Newbattle Abbey College Adult Learning Conference.
Newbattle Abbey College Adult Learning Conference.

The Scottish Government has confirmed its ongoing support for the Adult Achievement Awards during a conference at Newbattle Abbey College.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, minister for further education, higher education and science, made the announcement about the Scotland-wide scheme, which is offered by Newbattle, during her keynote speech at the college’s fifth national Adult Learning Conference.

She said: “Transitions from community learning into college can be challenging and quality adult guidance can help people get through that process and help their progression route, eventually into employment.”

Newbattle Abbey College principal Marian Docherty, urged delegates to use “their combined experience and expertise” to improve adult guidance services. She said: “Some people can access what they are looking for quite easily, but for many people, that is not the case. They face all kinds of barriers to learning.”

The Newbattle principal went on to stress the need for well-trained practitioners to offer objective and informed adult guidance - and said it was critical for different agencies to work together effectively on progression planning, adding: “Some people get stuck because they do not get appropriate advice and what a waste of potential that is.”

The conference heard from two former students about the support they had received, including Kelly Drummond, a single mother who left school at 17. Through Working for Families, she did a part-time sociology course at Queen Margaret University, then moved onto a full-time arts and social sciences course at Newbattle Abbey.

“The transition from being at home with my son to full-time education was difficult at times, but I got so much support at Newbattle which made it so much easier,” said Kelly, who is now studying international business with business law at Heriot-Watt University. She added: “It wasn’t just about education - Newbattle completely changed my life and made me a much happier person.”

Kelly praised all the organisations that helped her, adding: “Without them, I would not be here today. There are no words to express what they have done for me.”

Greg Alexander described his journey from unemployment in Dundee, through Newbattle Abbey College to a social work course at the University of Edinburgh: “I had lost motivation and saw no future. At Newbattle, I learned that I could ask anything and I did things I didn’t think I could do. It’s great for everyone to have a second chance.”

Greg is now a full-time social worker in East Lothian.