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Learning by degrees

At Christ the King college in London, sixth-formers take a degree course - and so do parents

FOR nearly three years, Christ the King Sixth Form College, in south east London, has given students a taste of higher education. It has offered, at NVQ level 4, a unit of Greenwich University's business studies degree.

Principal Colleen Bater would like to build on that initiative by adding another degree course unit in the near future.

Students are taught by associate principal Rob McAuliffe. He came to Christ the King, in Lewisham, with an FE college background, and having taught at the higher level.

"It's quite a lot for them to take on with their other commitments," he says. "Some use it as a taster to ensure they get an understanding of what's needed at that level. Others use it as an extra qualification, and some want to do it just out of curiosity."

Quynhe Nguyen, 17, is doing the module alongside A-levels in IT, media studies and business studies. "I really wanted to know what it's like at university level," she says. Quynhe is on her second module, looking at management theory.

At times she has found the going tough - "harder than A-levels, with a lot more reading". She adds: "Some of it is quite difficult to grasp - I find myself going over things twice before they sink in."

She has enjoyed elements of the module related to real life and the sense of kudos that comes with aiming high. "I do want to do a business studies degree - somewhere quite local - and take my education as far as I can," she says.

Fellow student Daniel Sante, 19, who would like to become a financial adviser, has enjoyed the research element: "You can't just do things out of textbooks. It teaches you to think."

And it's not only full-time students who are involved. In the evenings, parents do the same course. "They take it for different reasons," says Mr McAuliffe. "Some see it as a way of getting back into formal education; some as a kind of access course."

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