A long distance way in to her new career

Francesca Michell
Francesca Michell

You’ve decided on your next career move and have found the course you need to make it a reality, but what do you do if the GCSE grades you earned as a 16-year-old are holding you back?

For Francesca Michell, 32, from Todmorden, the answer was distance learning.

Despite already having many years of experience working with children in outdoor activity and youth work settings, Francesca discovered she was not eligible to apply for a PGCE - the one-year course that qualifies graduates as teachers - because she only achieved a D grade in GCSE Science.

She now faced the option of giving up on her dream career or finding a way to improve her GCSE grade so she could enrol on the course.

Returning to full-time study was not an option as Francesca already had a job to consider and, since she had to occasionally work nights, evening classes were also far from ideal.

She decided to enrol on a GCSE Science course with home study provider Oxford Open Learning.

Not only did it make sure she got the grade she needed to enrol on the PGCE course, she was also pleasantly surprised to find just how much the learning experience had changed since she was at school.

Thanks to the flexibility of the long-distance learning format, she was able to keep working while she studied the one-year course.

“A long distance course was ideal because I could fit in study around my shifts and days off. Some weeks were harder than others; 52 hour weeks usually meant a pause in studies but I could make this up in the slack periods,” she explained.

Another bonus was that studying from home meant she didn’t have to deal with any additional travel costs. She was paired up with a personal tutor who gave her feedback on the progress she was making, and could explain specific topic areas verbally when needed. Francesca completed the course with an A* in GCSE Science and promptly enrolled on a Primary PGCE course at Edge Hill University.

She recently started her new job as a teacher at a primary school in Sowerby Bridge and said anyone in a similar situation should seriously consider distance learning.