Meet Barbara Isherwood, Community Education Manager, Bassingbourn College


How did you become involved in Adult Education?

I applied for the position of Community Education Manager whilst working in the Finance Department of the College.


What is the most interesting part of your present job?

Undoubtedly the connection I have with all adults who come along for classes and those who tell me about the part that adult education classes have played in their lives. The successes for people who thought they were unable to find a new job, the benefits to those who have had health problems and the part I play in being able to provide a class that people in my community have wanted to access locally or want to keep going for several years.


Could you tell us something about the range of learners that use your centre?

The learners are 85% retired and 15% are working full or part time.


Could you tell us something about the learning programme you offer?

We offer courses mainly for personal interest and for health and well-being. Our skills related courses have dropped off dramatically in the past 3 years but in 08/09 we aim to offer for the first time NVQ's in Admin and Management and ITQ for computer skills. The reason for the drop off is the LSC's continued narrow band of priorities which is always difficult to meet in rural locations in terms of demand and class size. On of our successes is the provision of ESOL classes which has met the needs of North Hertfordshire residents in particular  and our continuing support and provision of classes for those with needs in mental health areas.


They say you learn something new everyday. What new thing have you learnt today?

Yesterday I met a very interesting man on a bus who is an academic. He researches tobacco companies and the things they might not tell us about sales, advertising, research figures, etc. Since 1998 all paperwork produced by tobacco companies are subject to public scrutiny. He gets paid from the USA to find out things (not always on paper) that we need to know about smoking and then will publish his findings.