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You're never too old to learn

Yvonne Brolley writes about the many benefits of her involvement with her local new community school

My involvement with our new community school started when I received a leaflet from my children's school informing us about a family session in information technology that was soon to start. As we were thinking about buying a computer for the children, and neither my husband nor I knew anything about them, we thought it would be good to go along and learn.

I started to go with my husband and daughter, and my youngest son went to the free creche that was provided. We all went together for a few months, but I was the only one who stayed with it and went on to do an IT certificate course with Perth College at the sessions.

I also attended a women's weekly coffee morning group. We did a number of activities, including learning about arts and crafts, aromatherapy and assertiveness.

We also did an SQA Intermediate 2 course in communications. At first, I found it a bit of a challenge as I had not done anything like that since I left school 20 years ago. But I found that I really enjoyed it and it has been a real boost to my confidence to be able to say that I have some sort of qualification.

We went out on a few visits with Careers Scotland. This was good experience as it helped me to decide what I wanted to do in the future when my youngest son went to school. It also helped me to find out what qualifications I would need to get the kind of job I wanted to do, rather than just working for the money in a job that did not make me happy.

At these sessions, Linda Alexander, community liaison co-ordinator at Perth College, helped me to write my cv and I was amazed to find that I had something to write. In the past, I have not applied for jobs that require a cv.

Then I started going to a numeracy group, where I studied for an SQA Intermediate 1 certificate. This group has been a great help to me as I have been able to help my oldest son with some of his homework and I no longer have to tell him to go and ask his dad.

I also attended a book-writing group, where I was amazed to discover that I did have something to write about. I have learnt that I am not a bad poet, although I don't think my adolescent son will think that when he reads my piece about teenagers. I think he will be even less pleased when he finds out that it is going to be published in a book. These sessions have also helped me to encourage my daughter with the stories that she likes to write at home.

It was through the new community school that I became a parent helper at Goodlyburn Primary in Perth, where I helped the P1 class for one morning a week. I think that of all the activities I got involved in through the new community school, this was the one I enjoyed most. I did jobs such as photocopying, laminating and picture mounting for the teacher. But best of all I liked helping the children in the classroom.

It has also helped me at home with my youngest son, who is in the other P1 class. Now I know how the teacher teaches and don't get into trouble for doing things wrong.

I think all the studying I have done through the new community school has had a very positive effect on my children, but especially on my eldest son, who has never been interested in school except for the social side. Last year, for the first time, he studied for his prelims, and has done very well in most of them. He has also had a very good school report.

I think seeing his mum having to study at the age of 36 has made him realise that maybe it would be better for him to do it while he is still at school.

Yvonne Brolley is now a full-time support for learning assistant at Glebe School in Scone, Perth and Kinross

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