A Ballymena woman is on course to achieve her teaching degree at Stranmillis after overcoming difficulties with dyslexia and dyscalculia
Nuala Esler is set to successfully complete a Diploma in Nursery Nursing at Northern Regional College (Northern College).
The 32-year-old was studying at Northern College and had been striving to achieve a Grade C in GCSE Maths when the college’s Educational Psychologist helped Nuala identify that she had dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Although upset, Nuala decided not to let the diagnosis hold her back and she contacted Stranmillis to see if she could still undertake a teaching degree if she passed her Access course. Access courses are entry routes into higher education specifically designed for mature students.
Nuala said: “To get to this stage has been difficult, but my tutors at Northern College really helped me overcome my difficulties and gain my Maths GCSE.
“I also had to work full-time while I completed the Access Course and look after my children and my husband who was ill at the time.
“I did have fears I wouldn’t be able to complete the degree but my self confidence has grown during my first year. There is a lot of satisfaction from what I have achieved through will power and lots of determination. But the most important thing is that I now have the opportunity to follow my lifelong dream and become a primary school teacher.
“I would encourage others like me to really consider higher education.”
Nuala explained that the Access Course allowed her to start a degree which will hopefully see her land her dream teaching job.
The Department for Employment and Learning is running an awareness raising campaign to promote the benefits of Higher Education to all.
The campaign will target those people in schools, communities and the workplace who are most able, but least likely to consider higher education in order to raise awareness of the potential value and accessibility of higher education to all in the community.
Employment and Learning Minster Dr Stephen Farry said: “At almost 50%, Northern Ireland has the highest participation rate of any area of the United Kingdom in higher education.
“We also have the best record in the UK in attracting students from low-income backgrounds. Whilst we can be proud of this, much more work needs to be done to raise awareness of the potential value and accessibility of higher education to all who can benefit from it.
“Nuala’s story clearly demonstrates the benefits of higher education.
“There remain some stubborn pockets of underrepresentation from low participation and high deprivation areas and I am committed to ensuring that the people who are most able, but least likely to participate, are given every encouragement and support to benefit from higher education.”
For further information on how you can ‘Reach Higher’ or to find out more about higher education visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/skills or call 0300 200 7876.