Guest blog - Expert tips and support for St Mary’s students - from the original distance learning pioneers
The value of education has never been greater; it opens doors to everything that is important in life and this has been highlighted by reactions to the cancellation of the GCSE and A Level exam session this summer.
As our pupils start the new term at St Mary’s with new remote learning timetables, we thought we would ask Cambridge-based distance learning pioneers – the National Extension College – to provide some tips and support to help inspire them as they embark on this new way of learning.
The National Extension College is an independent educational charity that started life from offices in Brooklands Avenue – just across the road from our Boarding House. The College was founded in 1963 by Michael Young and Brian Jackson as a forerunner for the Open University and since then has educated thousands of students – all from a distance.
Here is what their CEO, Dr Ros Morpeth OBE, had to say to all our students as they embark on their journey:
“The value of education has never been greater; it opens doors to everything that is important in life and this has been highlighted by reactions to the cancellation of the GCSE and A Level exam session this summer.
The unprecedented impact of Coronavirus means that the majority of students are now finding themselves studying at home – something our students have been doing for over fifty years.
Staying motivated is essential for all students but even more vital when you are working from home without physically being in the classroom sat next to one’s peers.
In these times, instead of face-to-face teaching and interactions, you will need to embrace the use of technology to learn and interact online and stay in contact your teachers and classmates.
Here are a few ideas that may help you to stay motivated and enjoying your schoolwork whilst social distancing:
- Make studying as enjoyable as possible by using more than one resource. In your study time make use of the school materials provided but if you get stuck, there are a wide range of free materials accessible online. Gaining another perspective on a problem may make it click for you.
- Increase your passion for a subject by using some of your free time to read additional books and articles on the topic. If you are interested in a particular era of history or a specific psychological theory, learn more about it. This could be done with online research, books, articles or podcasts. Mix things up if you can – but resist the urge to get side-tracked during your allotted study time.
- Talk to your fellow students when you can during form time or in interactive lessons. Maintaining contact with friends is important for mental wellbeing but also talking through your studies can help with comprehension. By talking something through you can discover how good a grasp you have of a topic. Younger students may find support from family especially helpful. A good discussion is a great way for anyone to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
For older students the National Extension College (NEC) and UCAS have worked together to provide a series of study skills guides to help you successfully make the transition to higher education. NEC are also offering free learning resources through their resources store, giving information on all aspects of study from learning independently to writing an essay. So, in addition to your lessons and curriculum you may find these useful. With all this extra time on our hands we can see it as an opportunity to advance and better ourselves.
I hope you enjoy your first experience of remote learning – I am sure St Mary’s will give you all the support you need to succeed.
For inspiration as you start on your journey, here are some encouraging comments from some of NEC’s distance learning students:
“Self-study made me realise that learning never stops. It’s not a race, not a sprint, not even a marathon, but a lifelong journey and you need to pace yourself.”
“One of the benefits of learning at home was that I became more confident in my ability to learn independently, this proved to be really helpful when I went on to university.”
Find out more about remote learning at St Mary's.
Co-founded in 1963 by Michael Young as a forerunner for the Open University, NEC is a long-standing independent educational charity. Find out more about National Extension College: www.nec.ac.uk.