When the school gates close behind the last pupil at the end of the academic year next month, it’s good to know that not all education ceases for the summer.
Indeed, for many learners and tutors, it doesn’t take a break at all.
Though our schools remain rigid in their devotion to strict term times, there are robust all-year round opportunities for those who may have long ago left the classroom but still have a desire to learn and attain.
It is true that further education is currently an uneasy landscape and one that is facing many challenges. Its budget is being reduced and further cuts over coming years are expected. It is a common thread heard throughout the sector that more must be done with less.
But while some of those working in this arena – colleges, for example – may struggle to promote the range of courses they once did, including evening learning, other options are available. There is opportunity for people aged over 16 who recognise that their careers can be advanced by undertaking new learning.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the workplace, where thousands of people each year use flexible distance learning to improve their qualifications with the aim of gaining career progression and success.
This isn’t learning of the type imagined by traditional-style apprenticeships. It is modern, hi-tech and high-quality online and paper instruction that allows people to learn during their working week with little intrusion into their daily duties.
Most workplace studying can be achieved at a time and place of their choosing, including at home after hours, and monitoring of progress is done remotely and through well-defined and organised on-the-job assessment.
It leads to improved qualifications that benefit both employee and employer – the former through a greater skills range built on ambition for personal betterment and the latter by knowing they have a more highly-skilled and committed employee.
There is huge scope to learn, with opportunities across many professional subject fields. For example, Learning Curve Group specialises in supplying nationally accredited apprenticeships and technical certificates in a vast range of subjects to many thousands of people a year. These include courses in health and social care, business administration, customer service, team-leading and management, engineering, performing manufacturing operations, and business improvement techniques.
I have seen the benefits these bring, with many of those who successfully complete our courses gaining in confidence and ability, and even winning promotion within their organisations – a level of attainment they often thought beyond them.
It is a model designed for the modern age, and today’s flexible learning has an increasingly important part to play within an all-year round vision of education in which there exists ever less limitation on when and where people can study.