‘Sarah’ had a disrupted education throughout childhood. She fought with several mental health issues including depression, paranoia and severe anxiety, which prevented her from being part of a working classroom environment. She never gained literacy qualifications in her teenage years, and in later life was sent to HMP/YOI Low Newton for committing a crime.
Sarah enrolled on the Functional Skills English Entry Level course with a view to gaining the Entry Level 3 qualification, but initially refused to enter the Novus classroom in the prison because she felt incapable of engaging and interacting with other learners. However, the Novus team worked with Sarah to set targets for her to learn in 30-minute sessions, with the aim of developing her skills and confidence.
This paid off for Sarah and within a fortnight she was working with enthusiasm and self-belief inside the classroom for 90-minute lessons, engaging with others and completing speaking and listening tasks with minimal support. Sarah successfully gained the Functional Skills English Entry 3 qualification, which will enable her to develop her studies in future and seek work when she is released from prison. Her mental health has also shown great improvement. She interacts with confidence, has more belief in her own abilities and feels much betterplaced to thrive in unfamiliar situations, including study groups, social events and, crucially, employment.
Sarah said: “I am grateful for all the work and support the Novus team has provided, especially the tutor and learners in the English classroom. “I feel very proud of my achievements and although I still have days when my anxiety restricts my socialising and learning, I feel more confident in speaking to people on the wing and in the Education department.”