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Back at school aged forty? Scary!
by Lynda Archard
©: June 2000

It all started last year when I realised that the debts were piling up, I had not done a regular job for years nor did I have qualifications. My fortieth birthday was approaching fast and it was panic stations all round!

After working for myself for years the thought of working 9 till 5 seemed horrific. But I had to do it. My wage as a psychic reader and a writer was inconsistent and I needed to know how much was coming in on a regular basis. Yes, I know, I'm psychic and therefore I knew that something was going to change but I didn't know what or how. If I was one of my own clients I would have been able to tell myself how to go about it but it doesn't work like that for us. For me though I just knew that I had to have faith that my pathway would be shown to me eventually. It's that tiny word 'faith' that is the problem. It doesn't pay bills and it isn't practical to rely on it if you are a down-to-earth Taurean like me with bills flying through the letter box.

My English teacher had put me off education back in 1976 by refusing to let me do the qualification I had desperately wanted. (That story is now part of my My bio ). Then last summer (1999) I was asked if I wanted to do a pre-employment training course after I applied for a local job in which the local council was funding the courses to help residents get the best chances of employment. Thankfully I said yes without thinking too much about what it involved.

On the first day I pulled on my new skirt and wiped my hands across the back to get the loose cat hairs off, (I have six cats and 1 dog), and I set off. Sitting on the bus gave me time to think and ask myself questions. What if I'm the oldest, how will I cope in a room full of kids?

To my relief I was one of the youngest. All were now my age as far as I was concerned. We became a team within a few hours and worked so well together during that two weeks that we decided to keep in touch afterwards.

That isn't really my point though, it's just a bit of background. The point is that I made new friends with a group of people that felt the same as me, all of us wondered if we could begin again in new professions. None of us knew what we really wanted out of life at that time.

Personally, I gained inspiration for new stories and whatever else was going to happen would be a bonus. We learned how to create a CV that would be beneficial to each of us in our seperate career paths, learned to communicate more with people by understanding talking, listening and presentation methods. I also found out about some other courses too.

One of them was a course in computers, electronic communications and networking. That was it, my career choice, or so I thought. I completed the course and gained a diploma before discovering that I can now use that diploma to gain a teaching certificate. In the UK you must have an 'A' level qualification or the equivalent to do any sort of teaching course. Now I have applied for a 'CELTA' course to teach English language to foreign students. Later I want to teach computers too.

My point is that fear had been stopping me from doing all this before. From that small decision to try something new my choices have expanded and my friendship circle has widened. I am enthusiastic again and I hope this gives you the kick if you have thought about it and not done it yet.

Life really does start at forty for me. What really bothers me is that it could have started at thirty, or I could have let fear keep me waiting until sixty!

An update March 2005

Since 1999 I have gained a folder full of qualifications. I couldn't afford the 'CELTA' course and so I went back to Greenwich Training and carried on taking various computer qualifications. In June 2003 I jumped at the chance to re-open the canteen in Greenwich Training College. I knew that if I could get inside the college then I would become a tutor. The person who employed me was Lloyd, who I had met on the Pre-employment training course in 1999.

After the first week I bumped into one of my tutors from the first computer course and mentioned that I want to teach. He was trying to find a suitable assistant tutor and I started my first day as an assistant tutor on 30th June 2003. I had not forgotten Lloyd - my daughter worked part-time in his shop and took over the canteen to become his full-time employee.

By November 2003 I had completed my City & Guilds 7407 Stage One, level 4, Tutor Certificate at Greenwich Community College and had become a full-time FENTO tutor at Greenwich Training. I was teaching the City & Guilds 7262 Diploma for IT Practitioners that replaced the 7261 qualification that I completed in 2000.

By the end of 2004 I had taught 3 courses and had completed my Stage 2 Tutor qualification and the A1 Assessor Certificate. We have now changed the 7262 for IT Practitioners to the 7262 for IT Users, consisting of IT Principles, desk top publishing and web design.

I also started my new role as Head of the IT Department after gaining a promotion on March 3rd 2005. In my new role I hope to complete some home courses that can be gained by working from home and coming into Greenwich Training for certification by the end of the year.

I have never looked back and I have a job that gives me satisfaction and pays my bills. I have the pleasure to encourage students to gain qualifications and I like to think they also make new friends and gain careers.

Starting a course is only daunting on the first day. After a few weeks confidence is gained as friends are made and qualifications are earned. If you would like to gain some confidence why not join me on an adventure that will not cost you a penny? For more details contact Greenwich Training at the following link: Greenwich Training or contact your local job centre and find out which courses are free in your area.

I look forward to meeting you!

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© Lynda Archard