We recently heard the sad news of the death of long-standing NEC tutor Liz Shiner. Liz tutored English Literature, English Language & Literature and English Language at GCSE, AS and A2 level. She also taught A levels in Sociology, Psychology and Philosophy for the college.
Over the last few years, she worked her magic on learners as young as 13 and as old as 87. Often, the learners who crossed her path would have been unlikely or unable to enrol on a college-based further education course. They included Royal Naval personnel, prisoners and young offenders, people living in inaccessible places such as on an oil rig and students from overseas, as well as students with disabling conditions which make access to learning difficult for them.
Teachers used to working in a classroom may think that rarely encountering learners face-to-face puts distance learning tutors at a disadvantage. Liz was quick to point out the advantages, championing distance learning for people with low self esteem and little confidence. She grasped intuitively that some older people feel they may be too old to go back into learning ‘school’ subjects. Liz, though, could draw out their enthusiasm by gently encouraging them to go at their own pace, both in their learning and in getting to know her.
Here are the words of just two of Liz’s recent young students when they heard of her death.
Olivia had periods of poor health as a child which led to her becoming home-schooled. She is now studying for a degree. Liz taught Olivia for GCSE and A Level English and Psychology. She said: ‘I am deeply saddened to hear this news as Liz was not just a great tutor to me and a constant source of support throughout my home education and exam phase, but a lovely person too! She will be very missed and fondly remembered. Liz had an extremely valuable impact upon my success. It’s down to her that I managed to achieve A* and A grades in each one of the AS levels I took in 2013. Liz treated every student as an individual and exuded enthusiasm for her work, an enthusiasm that was truly infectious and gave her pupils a real love for learning.’
Joe is a 14-year-old boy who has lived in France for most of his life and who studied English Language IGCSE with Liz. He had never done any homework in English before enrolling with NEC and was understandably apprehensive and unsure about what he was taking on. From the word go, Liz made a really positive impression on him, encouraging him to produce good work and to keep going. ‘Liz always gave constructive criticism, encouraging comments, making it feel more familiar for me to send work to someone I had never met. Liz was the ideal teacher!’ Joe’s mother said: ‘Really sad news. Joe had an instant connection with her, which we very rarely see.’
Liz had many qualities that made her a remarkable tutor. The one that stands out above all the rest was her ability to strike up constructive relationships with learners of many different ages and backgrounds. We shall all miss her.