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11 July 2017

Family learning success helps CAVC student Nutica win top award

A mother who left Romania and moved to Wales in search of a better life for her and her family has won a top award for achievement in adult learning.

Nutica Neascu, 34, and daughter Iulia, 5, moved to Cardiff in March 2016. Nutica spoke some English but her daughter spoke very little so they found it difficult to integrate with the local community.

Their learning journey started when they joined the Families Learning Together course at Radnor Primary School. The course helped the pair meet other families in the same position as them while also developing their English-language skills.

Support and guidance was provided by tutors and both grew in confidence. The course helped them to make friends and learn more about life and education in Wales.

On completing the course in December 2016, Nutica wanted to continue learning. She attended an open day at Cardiff and Vale College and secured a place on the Level 2 Business Administration course.

Nutica now studies alongside her work as a hotel food and beverage assistant. In September she will start working towards a Public Services qualification at Cardiff and Vale College and is considering a career in hotel or events management or even police work.

Nutica has won the Family Learning category at the Inspire! Awards 2017 in recognition of her learning achievement.

She says: “I thought that education was something that happens when you’re young – it’s not something you think you’ll be doing at 34 years old. I’m really surprised to win this award but at the same time I am very happy.

“When my daughter started at Radnor Primary School in Cardiff a lady there told me about Families Together. She asked if I wanted to attend and I thought ‘Why not? It will help me and daughter with language’.

“When we started, my daughter only knew the colours and how to count from one to ten in English. Now she speaks English better than me and has a Cardiff accent! I am very proud of her! She says that when she grows up she wants to be a teacher.

“I made friends with other mums in the group, we supported each other and learned how education is different in Wales. As we came to the end of the course I knew I would like to carry on learning. I also hope I am setting a good example for my daughter.

“As I was working long hours, it was sometimes really difficult for me to come to the class in the mornings but I saw how happy my daughter was every time we had the family lesson and knew I couldn’t let her down.”

The Inspire! Awards are hosted each year ahead of Adult Learners’ Week to celebrate the achievements of outstanding learners in Wales who have shown exceptional passion, commitment and drive for learning; often in the face of difficult circumstances, as well as employers who champion learning in the workplace.

Organised by Learning and Work Institute Wales with the financial backing of the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, this year’s Adult Learners’ Week runs from 19th–25th June and celebrates lifelong learning; whether work-based, as part of a community education course, at college, university or online. Now celebrating its 26th year, it aims to promote the range of courses available to adult learners; from computing and childcare to business and languages.

In Romania, Nutica worked in transport, finding trucks to transport goods around the world. She knew where Wales and Cardiff was on the map but hadn’t been to the UK before but she says she has been made to feel at home here.

“I have had such help from the Welsh community. When I had problems or didn’t know something, people have just been so willing to help at my daughter’s school, in my job or at college.”

Commenting on the Inspire! Awards, Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “Learning doesn’t stop once you leave school. This year’s Inspire! Award winners prove how powerful both formal and informal learning can be at any age, with inspirational tales of people from different backgrounds across the nation overcoming obstacles to build new lives. I would like to congratulate them all on their outstanding achievements.

“Throughout Adult Learners’ Week, we want to encourage adults across Wales to find out more about their skills and career options by joining one of the many free learners’ events in their area. Adults can also access the Skills Gateway to get careers advice and guidance, whether they want to improve their skills and employability or get back into work."

David Hagendyk, Director of Learning and Work Institute Wales, said: “The Inspire! Awards show how learning can really change lives. We hope people feel empowered by the winners’ stories and make the most of Adult Learners’ Week to get involved in local opportunities and seize the moment – whether you are stuck in a rut, want to make a change or brush up on your skills, Adult Learners’ Week could be just the boost you need to help improve your current situation through learning.”

For more information on Adult Learners’ Week, go to the Welsh Government’s Skills Gateway for Adults at www.careerswales.com/skillsgateway, call 0800 028 4844 or follow @skillsgatewaycw