Blog: December 2016

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Top tips for studying over the holiday season

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s easy to lose sight of your studies. Christmas parties, decorating the house with an unmentionable number of fairy lights, family get togethers mean there are many reasons to procrastinate.

Here are our top tips for keeping your studies on track over the next couple of weeks.

1. Plan your time

We agree that wrapping presents and getting last minute shopping are going to be essential tasks in the run up to Christmas, but try to make a plan that incorporates your study and stick to it. Alan, NEC maths tutor, says: ‘Plan your life, remember it’s busy people who get things done.’

An open paper planner book with blocks of time allocated using coloured markers and notes written in each box, next to a cup of tea on a white desk

2. Reward yourself

Set yourself goals and reward yourself for sticking to your plan.  If you’re aiming to get through a certain amount of material by the end of the day, break that material down into manageable sections to make it less daunting. Give yourself a little reward as you complete each section, and a big reward at the end when you’ve completed it all — perhaps another turkey sandwich!

A sandwich made using seeded sliced bread, filled with chicken, tomato and lettuce, cut diagonally into two halves and placed on a white plate

3. Remind yourself why you’re studying

Everyone’s reasons for starting a course are different. Perhaps you want a career change in 2017 or you are applying to university. Don’t forget those reasons and remember what’s next. Remind yourself of why you want to learn something new, and look forward to what you will have achieved once you’re done. Remember also that education of any kind has a positive and enriching effect on your life, no matter what your plans for the future are and that in itself is motivating too.

A blackboard with the message 'What's next' written on its surface using white chalk

4. Give it a try!

If you’re planning on making a change next year and need a qualification to do it, why not download the course sample from the NEC website and give the subject a try. Whether you’re looking for maths, English or counselling. A sample could be just the thing to get you motivated for the new year!

 Level 3 Award in Education and Training, IGCSE Maths Foundation, and Gold Star A level Biology

We hope you find these tips helpful. Whatever your plans over the next few weeks, we hope you have an enjoyable Christmas season and a wonderful New Year.

We’ll see you again in 2017 — may it be a year full of learning!

Current comments: 0
Friday, 16 December 2016

Looking back at 2016

A large gathering of people standing grouped together to form the shape of the number '2016' when viewed from above

2016 has been a full year at NEC. We’ve achieved some great things and have helped thousands more people to change their lives. In our blog this week, we take a look back at the year and make an exciting announcement!


Launch of three new Gold Star A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics – NEC’s range of STEM A level subjects increased to include maths, biology, chemistry and physics – the widest range available from any distance learning provider. These excellent new courses quickly proved to be a firm favourite with NEC students.


OBE for Outstanding Services to Education – Last year NEC’s CEO Ros Morpeth was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her outstanding services to further education. The ceremony took place in February at Buckingham Palace where Prince Charles awarded Ros with her medal.


January 2016 exam session results – Carrying on tradition, NEC students again achieved some excellent results. 100% of IGCSE Biology students achieved grade A* or A compared to Edexcel’s average of 23.1%. 100% of IGCSE Maths students achieved grade A* to C compared to Edexcel’s average of 66.7%.


A level practical endorsement – NEC formed a partnership with the Open Science Laboratory at the Open University to give an innovative solution to the challenges of learning about practical skills at a distance. Learn more about the partnership in our previous blog.


Working with UCAS to improve study skills – We started working with UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service) on a series of study skills guides to help students make the transition from school or college to higher education. You can expect to see more of these throughout 2017.


Exam season draws to a close – While most of the country was deciding whether to vote in or out in the historic Brexit vote to determine the future of the UK, thousands of people were sitting exams to determine their own futures. Record numbers of students chose to enter for exams at one of NEC’s partnership exam centres this year.


NEA (non-exam assessments) – When we found out about a new change to exam regulations that would create barriers for private students, we responded by launching a campaign to change this. You can read about this in CEO Ros Morpeth’s blog.


Inspiring stories and great results from the June 2016 exams – NEC students achieved some great results in their exams. This summer, 100% of our students achieved A* to C in Religious Studies, including home educated Kathryn who is now studying English at King’s College London. Read her story here.


Launch of learn@nec – our new virtual learning platform – We launched a new virtual learning platform learn@nec which provides our students with the flexibility to be able to access their course online, on the go. The forums allow students to speak to others on their course and they’re able to easily access other resources to help them to succeed. Everything our learners need is in one learning environment designed with them in mind.


A place to get practical – Students who study science A levels with us are able to do the practical endorsement at our partnership exam centres in Oxford and Coventry. Students need to sit their exams and the endorsement at the same exam centre. To find out more about how this works, get in touch and talk to our Course Advice Team.

New courses – We launched some exciting new courses. The Award in Education and Training – Level 3 (formerly PTLLS). Ideal for anyone with training responsibilities, and two new Gold Star A levels: French and Religious Studies. We also launched GCSE English Language, the first of our new Gold Star GCSEs that support the new 0-9 specification.


NEA success – We have agreed an approach with leading UK awarding bodies and we’re now well on the way to an exam system that works for everyone.  You can find out more about the outcome in CEO Ros Morpeth’s blog.

New partnership exam centres – We added 2 new partnership exam centres to make it easier for even more NEC students to access exams and non-exam assessment – in Oxford and Stockton-on-Tees.


An excellent way to end the year – The TES FE Awards 2017 announced the shortlist today. We’re pleased to say that the campaign we have been working on since the summer, to give private candidates access to GCSE and A level qualifications on an equal footing with candidates from schools and colleges, has been shortlisted in the Marketing and Communications Campaign of the Year category!

We’d like to finish for the year with a huge well done to the thousands of students who have studied with NEC this year and a thank you to everyone who has supported them in their journey of life-changing learning.

Current comments: 0
Monday, 05 December 2016

Top five writing tips

Ballpoint pen resting on the blank, lined page of a spiral-bound notebook, next to an English dictionary

November was Novel Writing month. Did it inspire you to try your hand at creative writing? To get started, read our top five writing tips. You might want to use these tips to help you with your career, or to help you write as a hobby or during your studies.

  1. Making the most of your characters in short stories
    Avoid long detailed descriptions in short stories – there isn’t space and the reader will find it more interesting if you let them picture the characters, without going into too much detail. Make sure you keep your reader engaged by only having a few characters – too many can confuse them and make them lose interest.
  2. First or third person?
    Fiction is usually written either in first or third person. You’ll need to decide whether you’re going to focus on one main character and only reveal his or her thoughts, or take on the role of an omniscient author and report on the thoughts and actions of all of your characters. Both of these tips are taken from NEC’s Writing Short Stories course.
  3. Research your market
    If you’re writing for a living, make sure you do your research. Don’t just write for publications that you read or for television channels you watch. Have a look around your bookshops to see what they offer. Research where the magazines and articles are being published. Some magazines are sold in shops, whilst others are sent through the post. The more research you do, the more avenues it’ll create. Taken from NEC’s Writing for a Living course.
  4. Use of good dialogue in fiction
    Dialogue has many functions in fiction, including helping to bring a scene to life by putting the reader directly in the here and now. Good use of dialogue conveys information effectively. You need to make sure that you don’t include too much dialogue to carry the story – in real-life scenarios, information is often conveyed through what isn’t said, rather than what is said.
  5. Use of figurative language
    Using figurative language is a great example of conveying meaning using pictures.  Images generate more meanings than words and often  represent something else. You can use similes, metaphors and images to convey a character’s inner feelings. Both of these tips are taken from NEC’s Creative Writing course.

We hope you find these tips useful for developing your writing skills. If you’d like to enrol on one of our Creative Writing courses, phone our Course Advice Team on 0800 389 2839.

Current comments: 0