NEC learner stories: Mairéad Sherry

NEC learner Mairéad Sherry chose to study various GCSEs and IGCSEs

16-year old Mairéad Sherry, who lives in County Cavan, Ireland, has been home schooled since the age of four. She has good reason to be proud of what she’s achieved so far through distance learning. On top of the three A* for the IGCSE exams she took this summer, in Combined Science, English Language and French, she was awarded two A*s last year, for IGCSE Maths Higher and Geography, and a B for IGCSE Business Studies.

Mairéad’s experience of distance learning has been so positive that she’s already enrolled with NEC for Maths, French and Biology A levels and will start studying again in September. She has her sights set on university. Nursing studies is one possibility but she has chosen A level subjects that allow her to leave her options open for now.

Like many home-schooled young people, Mairéad is an independent learner, confident about reading and researching information for herself without the help from teachers that pupils in school can draw on.

When she was of primary age, she and her parents assumed she would go to school for the next phase of her education. As the time approached, however, Mairéad saw the pressure her friends at secondary school were under and felt more and more reluctant to give up the flexibility and relaxed atmosphere that home schooling offers. She values her time to do hobbies too – she plays the concertina and loves baking and making cards – and knew that if she went to school, the time she was able to devote to them would be eaten away by home work.

Once it became clear that school wouldn’t be the right choice, her mother began to research distance learning. NEC stood out because of its experience, professionalism and the testimonials of students who had achieved good results.

Mairéad enrolled for IGCSE Combined Science, English Language and French and started in January 2015. The plan was to concentrate on the three subjects for a year and then choose another three subjects the following year, rather than sitting all the exams at the end of two years’ study. This reduced the pressure around exam time. She found that by working her way systematically through the course materials, she was well prepared for the exams and could fit everything in to the time she had allocated. The advice and support of her tutors was very helpful and encouraging. She sat exams for all six GCSE-level subjects at the Dublin Tutorial Centre.

Mairéad says: ‘Three years ago, when I enrolled for my first three IGCSE courses, I never dreamed I would come out with a handful of A*s. I’ve recommended NEC to a number of friends who are also home schooled. I’ve told them that distance learning does take drive and determination but that NEC provides the information and support you need to do well if you are prepared to put the effort in and are determined to succeed.’