Mother-of-one, Lauren Burns (24), from Ilkeston, one of the many mature students who sat GCSE examinations at Derby College Group (DCG) this summer, is celebrating a Grade 7 (equivalent to an A grade) in English.
Lauren now plans to return to College to do GCSE Maths and also an Access to Higher Education in Humanities and Social Science study programme at the college.
Her aim is to progress onto the University of Derby to study Writing and Publishing and to work in the publishing industry.
Lauren dropped out of full time mainstream education when she was 11 due to depression and high levels of anxiety. She consequently did not gain any formal qualifications when she was a teenager.
She eventually plucked up the courage to return to education last September when her daughter (now aged five) started school. She enrolled at DCG’s Ilkeston College to study GCSE English and will collect her result at the college this Thursday (August 22).
Lauren explained: “I suffered from an early age with mental health issues and they built up to a point where I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone go to school.”
“I desperately wanted to learn and get an education so tried several times to return to school and I did have some home education. I did not, however, gain any GCSEs which I have always regretted.
“I had my daughter when I was 18 and I felt I had a purpose in life for the first time. Taking her to school every day was the impetus that I needed and I felt in a much better place to get the education that I needed to get on with my life.”
She continued: “You can’t get anywhere without GCSEs. I have always loved reading so thought I would start with GCSE English and see how I got on.
“It was daunting to start at college but the classes are small, we are all mature learners and the teaching staff are really supportive.
“Once I settled in I began to love the course. The lessons were always really engaging and it was great to have discussions with other people who also faced their own challenges.
“I was such a hermit before but I now have so much more confidence in all areas of my life and I am proud of my achievements so far.
“I thought that sitting the GCSE English exam would be particularly nerve wracking but we were able to take it in one of the classrooms at Ilkeston and, although it was supervised, it felt more like a test we’d take in a normal lesson.
“I have always loved books and my dream is to work in some capacity within the publishing industry. This is the first step in reaching that goal.”
“I’ve hardly slept for two nights worrying that I had done something wrong on the paper but I am over the moon with this result and it has given me the encouragement to go further.”
DCG Director of Maths and English Bronagh Quigley said: “GCSE’s are vital for everyone and our focus is to ensure that everyone has the grades they need to move to the next stage of their lives.
“As well as supporting young people who have not achieved the Maths and English grades at school, we offer a flexible programme of daytime and evening study programmes so that adults can fit in learning with their busy lives.
“Lauren is one of many adults who have achieved and exceeded their goals and we look forward to welcoming her and many others back in September to continue their learner journey.”