Pam McLean is an adult basic skills tutor at Coleg Cambria and has had a career in education and training spanning over 30 years having been inspired to retrain when working as a PA to a College Principal. She says, “I chose adult education as it was the place where I felt I could make a difference to how people perceived education and how this could change their lives for ever.”

At a mental health awareness day at the College, Pam was approached by local charity Stepping Stones who wanted to offer educational opportunities to the women who were being supported as part of their Next Steps Group. The women (all survivors of abuse) had talked about interrupted school life and had asked if there was any way they could re-start their education. Many had poor attendance at school or had left school early due to the trauma of their abuse and were finding that a lack of good levels of Maths, English and IT skills were presenting real barriers in their lives.

Pam responded and developed weekly Stepping Stones Essential Skills Classes. The classes have now been running for over a year with 12-14 women regularly attending. Many of the women are tackling issues with mental health, self-harm and low self-esteem, but Pam has been a real inspiration with the group and has quietly gained the confidence and trust of each group member.

Classes are full of fun and energy with Pam creating resources to bring classes to life. She makes time to understand the hopes of each learner and to find ways of supporting them to reach their full potential. The learners all report being able to help their children with homework, they can budget and make informed decisions in their life, and all have enrolled again this term to carry on with their education. One learner says, “Pam has given me back my life and I now feel there is a future for me”.

Shirley McCann of Stepping Stones nominated Pam, she says, “The classes started with maths held in the safety of the familiar surroundings of the Stepping Stones rooms and we have seen wonderful results, as the women gained confidence they started to also attend an English class at Coleg Cambria. One lady who spoke of her dream to go to university, was encouraged by Pam to enrol on an Access Course and she excitedly came to share with the class that she had completed her year and gained 2 GCSE’s.”

 “Tutoring and mentoring is extremely important to me, not just because I enjoy being with the learners but the sense of achievement when you see the progression they are making and are willing to achieve. Adult Education should be a friendly, welcoming, safe environment for learners to unleash their potential and for their hidden skills to be identified. Part of this should be about learners being able to access classes in their own community.”