Working in the Open

PUBLISHED: 11:18 12 May 2006 | UPDATED: 21:51 28 May 2010

AS a single parent with four children Sarah Barrett found many routes of study closed to her but now she has a new qualification thanks to the Open University and a lot of hard work. The senior child and family worker of Rowan Close, Wisbech, has been awa

AS a single parent with four children Sarah Barrett found many routes of study closed to her but now she has a new qualification thanks to the Open University and a lot of hard work.

The senior child and family worker of Rowan Close, Wisbech, has been awarded a Diploma in Higher Education (social work) and enjoyed her studies so much she intends to carry on doing more.

Miss Barrett, 46, had not undertaken any academic study since leaving college in 1977. She says the flexibility of OU allowed her to balance family life with full-time work.

She says colleagues at work were very supportive and her qualification has now opened up an exciting and diverse career path.

Rachel Cook, 43, of Gedney Road, Long Sutton, studied with Open University so she could teach English instead of IT. She has been awarded a BA.

Squadron Sergeant Major Steffan Wright left school and joined the Army at 16 putting his academic studies on hold, but he always knew he could obtain a degree.

Now he has proved he can do just that by studying with the Open University and gaining a Bachelor of Science (hons) degree in environment.

Mr Wright, 40, of Saddlers Way, Glebelands, Chatteris, said of the OU: "It was one of only a few universities that offered distance learning and it was certainly the Open that offered the most diverse range of subjects. I studied several course before changing tack."

Telecommunications consultant Les Oliver, 44, of March, joined the OU because he regretted not having the opportunity to take up higher education at the age of 16. After being awarded a BA (hons) degree in business studies, he said the OU gave him a flexible, supportive and cost-effective way of studying.

Margaret Cooper, 69, of West End, March, joined the OU as an interest, having retired from full-time lecturing in a further education college.

Having been awarded a BSc (hons) degree in human geography, she said that as it was 50 years since she had passed A-level geography, the course had brought her up to date, especially with regard to environmental issues.

Teacher training now beckons for learning mentor Kirsty Shanks, of Low Cross, Whittlesey. Miss Shanks, 28, has been awarded a BA (hons) degree in humanities, and her new skills have involved her in working with abused children in a mainstream secondary school.

She had to study through many difficult times including the death of a grandparent and her mother being ill with cancer.

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