Here’s a contribution from our Communications Manager on her experience sitting in on an ALTA class.
“I recently sat in on an Alta class at our Belmont location to get some footage for a video and ended up staying longer than I had anticipated. It was one of the best things that could have happened. As Communications Manager I work on ‘the other side of things.’ I’m primarily in charge of disseminating information to our tutor network and target market and while I have a great understanding of what Alta is about, how the programme is run and the incredible impact it has had over the years, nothing beats experiencing something first hand.
What struck me first that day was the diversity in the classroom. I think when most people imagine an Alta class they think of students in their late 30’s and older, but there were women and men from 16 to 65 years old, not just sitting in the same class, but working together, helping each other with exercises, reading the newspapers together and encouraging each other.
During the exercises that day, the class learned about words like rope where the silent ‘e’ at the end of the word results in a long ‘o’ sound. This made me think about my own experience with learning to read which I don’t remember. The class went through all the words like rope and then others like ‘come’ where this rule does not apply. It made me think of how difficult it must be to remember all of these rules. In that moment I was in awe of every single student in that classroom. Making the decision to come back into the classroom as an adult is a daring one – especially for students who had negative experiences with education when they were younger. Sticking it through the Alta programme and committing to coming to class twice a week for two hours to improve their reading and writing skills, while also managing other life commitments is a great achievement.
Unfortunately due to stigma surrounding poor literacy skills in society, many look down on Alta students. Last week as I sat in on the class, I really could not be prouder of them- they’re all heroes and heroines in their own way. The Alta programme is unique; it really is the answer for anyone who struggles with reading, writing or spelling. I now understand what our tutors mean when they say they leave their Alta classes feeling refreshed and fulfilled. ”