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County council learning service praised by mayor of Dereham during visit

PUBLISHED: 14:20 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:20 16 January 2018

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell and Nicola Ruggles playing Think Words at the adult education class. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell and Nicola Ruggles playing Think Words at the adult education class. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

It is one of the joys of parenting - the loving gesture of reading a bedtime story to your child.

The adult education class meets at the Breckland Business Centre every Monday morning. Pictured are (L) Lucy Washtell and Tracey Walsh. Picture: Ian BurtThe adult education class meets at the Breckland Business Centre every Monday morning. Pictured are (L) Lucy Washtell and Tracey Walsh. Picture: Ian Burt

But for some adults in our region, this simple task can be impossible.

Christopher Irwin, from Necton, a student with the adult learning service, saw this as a challenge he was determined to rise to.

And at Christmas, the 36-year-old finally succeeded in reading a Horrid Henry book to his 15-year-old daughter, Courtney.

Mr Irwin described her reaction as “impressed and amazed”.

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell speaking to (L) Tracey Walsh and Keeley Carter at the adult education class held at the Breckland Business Centre. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Mayor Hilary Bushell speaking to (L) Tracey Walsh and Keeley Carter at the adult education class held at the Breckland Business Centre. Picture: Ian Burt

The National Literacy Trust released figures in 2017 showing that some 11pc of adults in the East of England lacked basic reading and writing skills.

And the Norfolk community learning service (NCLS) run by Norfolk County Council (NCC) is on a mission to change this, by empowering adults to transform their lives through education.

Mum-of-two, Nicola Ruggles, 31, has been studying with NCLS to be a teaching assistant since June.

She described her tutor, Heather Street, as “amazing” and said: “I came into it thinking ‘There’s no way I can do this’, and actually its been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell speaking to Christopher Irwin at the Breckland Business Centre. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Mayor Hilary Bushell speaking to Christopher Irwin at the Breckland Business Centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham mayor, Hilary Bushell, visited a class at the Breckland Business Centre, in Dereham on Monday, to see the impact of NCLS’ classes for herself.

The mayor said: “You’ve got to look at what people have overcome and what they hope to achieve.

“Nothing is more promising than hearing young people who want to better themselves, either for their own sakes or because they’ve got young families.

“It’s not easy when you’re older to put your hand up and say, ‘I can’t do this’, and they so deserve everybody’s support. There is a qualification or a placement out there for every person.”

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell joined members of the adult education class for a game of Think Words. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Mayor Hilary Bushell joined members of the adult education class for a game of Think Words. Picture: Ian Burt

NCLS learners can study a range of courses, from English and maths to vocational skills.

Classes run in council buildings and libraries across the county.

Denise Saadvandri, assistant head of service for education at NCC, said: “There is a high level of illiteracy in the county, and it is something that people shouldn’t feel ashamed of, but they do.

“It is very hard to say ‘I need to do something about this, but these are the people we see in these classes. It makes such a difference at home, and it helps their children to achieve in the future.”

Dereham Mayor Hilary Bushell and Nicola Ruggles playing Think Words at the adult education class. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Mayor Hilary Bushell and Nicola Ruggles playing Think Words at the adult education class. Picture: Ian Burt

Anyone interested in taking a course should call 0344 800 8020 or go to the NCC learning services website.

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