Donna Ridings




After being badly bullied at school and leaving with no qualifications, Donna made the choice to return to learning at the age of 50. From her initial start as a nervous and shy member of both her Functional Skills English and Maths classes, Donna is now an inspiration to her peers, volunteers with her local community club and plans to continue learning into the future.

“In 2023, I took my first nervous steps back into the classroom. I decided to enrol on English, Maths and IT courses at Oldham Lifelong Learning. My motivation came while I was working at the secondary school and I found myself giving advice to a student. The advice was to not let the bullies win, to go back into class, study hard and get their exam results. That is when I knew I needed to get the qualifications that I should have got all those years ago. I have now progressed on to doing IT Level 2 and GCSE Maths, and in time I will enrol on a business administration course.

“Going back into learning has made my family proud, they know it has been a massive step for me. They have seen my confidence is starting to grow and it has been good for my self-esteem too. Not having qualifications made me feel as though some people may think I’m not intelligent. I am proud of myself, and it has been good to prove that I can do this.

“While my studies are going on I have started a part-time voluntary role at a local Jujitsu club. Previously, the jobs that I have had were low paid jobs that fit around my family. I am now thinking about my future career and how I can progress in a job that I will love.”

Gina Hornby, English Programme Leader at Oldham Lifelong Learning said: “Donna is a truly inspirational person and a fantastic role model to anyone who found education difficult as child or was bullied at school. She now shines with confidence and has become an ambassador for our service, sharing her story to inspire others.”