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How Sharon got connected

Alan Addison, a tutor on the Connect scheme designed to get adults back into education to learn basic skills, met 26-year-old Sharon Burns at the school gates of Granton Primary 15 months ago. She was taking her then four-year-old daughter into the nursery and he was distributing leaflets about the scheme.

"Sharon was hesitant about going on a course but said she would go if I went in with her," Mr Addison recalls. "She was nervous at first and her confidence was really low. She felt she couldn't do anything right. But, within a short spell, her confidence was right up and she was asking lots of questions such as 'what is alliteration?' She went on a computer course, then another course at Edinburgh's Telford College. In between we offered her lots of guidance in the background, asking how things were going."

Sharon says: "At school I did four O grades and a Standard grade in computing, then worked as an accounts clerk for three and a half years I before I left to have my daughter, Mica. When I went on the first Connect course I didn't know anybody, but as you get to know people they are nice to you. We learned about aromatherapy.

"Pam, the home-link teacher, gave me a leaflet about a computing course up at Craigroyston. It was over four weeks and included time for coffee. It made it much easier that we were bussed there and back, although it was a bit of a rush to get back for the kids.

"At Telford I found it weird to be learning again, but it was good after the gap. I was more mature and worked harder because I had chosen to do itI In the computing room there were some schoolkids doing extra work for their exams and their attitude was so different, offhand and cheeky, normal 15-year-olds I suppose.

"At the Connect group I enjoyed speaking to the headteacher in an informal situation. I understand what the home-link teacher is doing and I know what questions to ask Mica about what she has been doing in school each day.

"I've always hated the term 'family literacy'. It makes adults sound really thick. But I liked the way the group was for us. It was good to be asked what we wanted to do. We made a children's book, Jack, Molly and the Baby Fox.

"I've just started a job as an accounts assistant with a subsidiary of Scottish Homes. I always intended to go back to work but the group made me move. I would probably have gone for a job of some kind even without the group, but I don't think I'd have gone to college."

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