“Age doesn’t matter in learning, and it shouldn’t hold you back” – Deb’s story

Deb works for Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. She wanted to train as a healthcare assistant but lacked confidence when faced with the numeracy module on her Care Certificate. She spoke to us about how National Numeracy’s attitudinal session and resources helped her get ahead in her career, change roles, and keep going even further. 

Can you tell me about your relationship with maths?

I had absolutely no confidence in maths at school. I was in a grammar stream school, which meant I felt that there was an expectation for me to perform at a certain level. I decided to take CSE maths instead of the O-Level qualification, as I didn’t think I would pass. Not only did I have no confidence in myself, my teachers didn’t seem to either.

I took O-Level Maths later in life and got a C grade which boosted my confidence a little, but I was still never fully assured.

Did the attitudinal session change your perspective?

Listening to other people and realising that so many had a similar experience to me was great. We were all in the same boat, and this made me feel more comfortable about engaging with the numeracy module on the Care Certificate programme.

What was your experience of taking the National Numeracy Challenge?

I took the Challenge in my office, and when I saw my score I cheered! I was really surprised, I didn’t think I would ever do as well as I did. 

Getting a higher score than I expected really reassured me, and if any of my colleagues were struggling with the Challenge, I felt more confident to help them.

I love learning, and the way the Challenge is set out makes it really enjoyable to use. Even though I had already met the requirements of the Care Certificate, I kept going back in and using the learning resources. I just wanted to keep improving! 

“The world is my oyster.”

Was the Challenge useful in supporting you at work?

I feel like I have so much more confidence at work now. I have actually worked in the NHS for a very long time, but in the finance department. I felt comfortable there because the spreadsheets helped me with the maths!

Training to be a healthcare assistant is a complete change of role for me, but I wish I had the confidence to do it years ago. I’ve come to realise that age doesn’t matter in learning, and it shouldn’t hold you back.

I have now enquired about completing a Functional Skills course, and the Challenge was a great stepping stone for this. It is proof that if I put my mind to it, I can study, work hard, and achieve! 

I will soon finish my Care Certificate programme, and since taking the Challenge I feel like I’m ready to apply to the Trainee Nursing Associate programme. It’s very exciting!

What would your advice be to others?

My advice would be to always have a go, as we are all capable of doing more than we think. Maths can be applied to so many things in everyday life even if it might not seem like it, and the Challenge has made such a difference in making me aware of this. Now that I know I can do maths, the world is my oyster. It has really promoted wellbeing and confidence within me. 

Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!

National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy. 

Give it a go

Find out more about maths anxiety

What is a fear of maths, how does it affect people and their lives, and what can you do to help? National Numeracy has collected a variety of research, stories from real people, and advice about maths anxiety.

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