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NWRC student named as finalist in OCN Learner of the Year Awards

18 May 2020
WEB Kelly Mclaughlin
A Limavady woman who returned to school to get Maths qualifications at the age of 47, has been shortlisted for an Open College Network (OCN) Learner of the Year award. Mum of two Kelly McLaughlin signed up for North West Regional College’s (NWRC) part time course in Essential Skills in Numeracy, 20 years after failing to pass her GCSE Maths in school.She says she shocked herself and her tutors by achieving a perfect score of 100%, and then being shortlisted for the Northern Ireland OCN award. As a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, the OCN awards ceremony is being lived streamed where the winner will be announced. Kelly, who works full time, as well as caring for her daughters aged 9 and 12, says she hopes to continue studying and is hoping to sit her full GCSE exam in the near future. “I suppose I always had this thing in my head that I wanted to get my Maths,” Kelly explained. “At the time my daughter was getting ready for her Transfer test and I thought if I could get some help with my Maths I could help her prepare. “I’d already attended NWRC in Limavady when I was younger as I took my secretarial course there, so it seemed the right decision to go back there for a part time course. “I opted for the Essential Skills class because I wanted to take things steady and the class was perfect for me because there was a good mixture of ages in it, and a range of abilities. “Maths was always a struggle for me at school, so I thought I’d give it a go now that I was a bit older. The classes happen once a week from 7 – 9 pm at NWRC’s Limavady campus and I loved them. There was never a week when I thought to myself, no, I don’t want to go tonight. “Ruairi McFaul, my lecturer, was so patient and so clear when explaining the course to us. “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had achieved 100% in my final exam. I knew the exam had gone well but I didn’t think it had gone that well! “It’s given me the confidence to go back now in September and continue with my Maths studies with the hope of going for my GCSE Maths. “I hope my experience might encourage someone else, my age, who for whatever reason didn’t pass their Maths exam when they were younger, to try again. It can be frightening and daunting going back into school but it can be done. Essentials Skills is a fantastic course.” Ruairi McFaul, Lecturer in Essential Skills said: “Kelly McLaughlin is a mature student who attended numeracy classes in the evening at NWRC. She had not studied maths since she was a teenager and returned to take numeracy for the first time in over 20 years. “For Kelly to manage a full time job and family life and yet return to numeracy class after such a long time and achieve a 100% score in her level 1 numeracy exam is an incredible achievement. She is an extremely hard worker and on behalf of the college I would like to offer my congratulations to her in being shortlisted as a finalist for the Open College Network award. I wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her in the college next year.” For information on all NWRC’s part time courses log on to
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