Hi, I’m Paul Weir, a hospital porter, studying with The Open University, and this year I’m studying history.
At school I was labelled as thick and stupid by all the teachers, and probably I was, I don’t know.
He was always, I suppose, a bit ashamed that he hadn’t actually got any qualifications. It is quite a big move so he really had to think about how it would fit in with his life.
When Esther had finished her degree I thought I’d have a go.
I chose the Open University to study my degree with simply because it was the only university at the time who did not require any formal qualifications to get in. It’s open to anybody. Once I’ve completed my degree I intend to become a history teacher. I want to teach inner city kids who have been possibly labelled like me to show them they can change that.
When I first came he was quiet, introvert, and since I’ve been here he’s become quite boisterous, full of life, he can talk to anybody now.
How’s you doing?
He’s more focused, and you can call him at any time, and he’s very cheerful and always very helpful.
I actually asked the Open University what could I do, and they sent me packs designed for students who are coming back into studying.
The starter pack taught him how to organise himself.
Organise your space.
Once I realised what I wanted to do and start studying with the Open University I went into panic mode. I realised that I needed somewhere to study and here it is my little study. All these books here are previous courses I’ve done, on the chair out the way, over here, is this year’s course.
It’s the first course that I’ve had so much material. My lighterman calendar’s up here. It lists all of those weeks studying. For example, this week I should be doing Voltaire, which is that one there, Part C. I don’t own any televisions but I have an essay due which will be return by the 15th. I’ve got my stereo system here with my classical music. And I hated classical music when I started but now I actually really enjoy it. Because before that I’d listen to Bruce Springsteen all the time and I had a habit of singing to that, which also is not very good when you want to study.
Because it’s his little area, it hasn’t been hovered for a long time. I get shouted at if I disturb him but sort of gradually I’ve been able to sneak in with cups of tea at intervals. When the classical turns into Bruce Springsteen I know he’s finished the studying for the day.
Plan your time.
I plan my week around my working shift. When I’m on earlies, I go to work, then come home, go running, that helps me relax and get myself ready for studying, about six o’clock I’ll come up. At eight o’clock say I’ve had enough of this and go for the pub for a drink. When I’m on lates, I’ll get up in the morning, come up here to my study and I’ll start looking and reading at what I’m supposed to do for two or three hours.
Certainly his confidence has increased. He’s become more interested in a much wider range of subjects.
Get friend and family on your side.
My wife is my favourite person and I’ll absolutely love her to bits for all the support and encouragement she’s given to me.
We just bought the house when I started. The first year, the mortgage was based on my wages only which included my overtime. I couldn’t study and do the overtime. The overtime had to go. I couldn’t do the Open University without Esther saying I’ll look after us.
The staff at Purley Hospital, without their support, I don’t think I’ll have done so well.
His colleagues have been wonderful and they’ve been absolutely great about changing their schedules and working it around him. Because we have a lot of downtimes in the hospital I mean most of the work goes on during the day and then in the evenings he would be sitting at the reception desk just meeting and greeting patients and relatives as they come and go. So I’d be very happy for him to sit there and read his books.
Know your goals.
The Open University and these courses are showing that I’m not thick and stupid. Teacher training next year with a degree and I can change children’s minds. Fulfil what their promise is. Anybody can do this. Anybody. Now I’m living proof.
Get the most out of your studies by visiting our website www.open2.net/openadvice.
Editor's note: The website open2.net referenced in the video merged with OpenLearn in 2010