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I need GCSE maths in order to achieve my dream job. Will this stand in my way forever?

(42 Posts)
chuffinalong Wed 27-Jul-16 21:49:29

Hi, I've decided that I'd love to train to be a teaching assistant. I've spent most of my adult life working with adults and young people with various disabilities and autism. I'd really like a change now, and have always been interested in teaching.
The problem is my maths. I just didn't get it at school and even now, as an adult it's pretty shocking. I'd need to re take GCSE maths and I'd need a C grade. I'm not sure if it would be harder still as an adult, as I've since forgotten everything I've learned at school. I'd also have to pay for it myself so it would be a huge waste of money and embarrassment if I failed to get a C grade!
Do you think it's worth a try? Can you teach an old dog new tricks, or do you think if I didn't pick it up with all the years of schooling then there is no hope of me picking it up now? Also, if you know of any websites that would help me or work books? that would be great. Thank you. smile

fastdaytears Wed 27-Jul-16 21:52:20

Yes you can definitely do this! Does it need to be GCSE or the Functional Skills thing? Either way, you can do it. I don't think it would be harder as an adult at all.

Was1969 Wed 27-Jul-16 21:53:59

I messed about at school and had to resit some of my exams at night school, including my maths. I did find it hard but managed to get a C grade which you need as a minimum for pretty much every job now. I did it whilst working at night school and if I recall correctly those who didn't pass could resit again in the November. Sign up for a class in September and hopefully this time next year you will be in a position to apply for the job you really want. Good luck star

SmileAndNod Wed 27-Jul-16 21:54:06

Absolutely worth giving it a go? Why wouldn't you?

My friend re took hers last year and passed, and we're early 40s now!

toomuchicecream Wed 27-Jul-16 21:54:42

Yes I do think it's worth a try - as an adult, you are more likely to see connections and realise why you are doing things. I didn't ever understand percentages - learnt to do them by following a system but didn't ever know why I did what I did. When I re-visited them 20 years after leaving school (I'm not sure if it was during my teacher training or when I had to teach them) it suddenly all fell in to place. I think it was having the bigger picture - being able to see why and how things fit together. Also, as a adult, you will be more motivated to succeed and more likely to speak up when you don't understand. I think that rather than starting with websites (khan academy is regularly praised) or workbooks, you need to get yourself on to an access course or Maths refresher, ready to start a GCSE. If you are really under confident then you need to have a person to put your questions to, at least to start with. Once you're having regular tuition, you can use websites and workbooks to supplement what you are learning and help with practice.

chuffinalong Wed 27-Jul-16 21:55:16

Thank you. smile I think it does need to be GCSE to get onto the TA course.

chuffinalong Wed 27-Jul-16 21:59:56

Thanks everyone! I think in answer to the question 'why wouldn't you?' I think I'm worried about making a fool of myself and wasting time/ money.

I'm going to have to give it a shot though, or I'll never know and won't end up doing the job I'd love.

TaintedAngel Wed 27-Jul-16 22:02:47

Im in Scotland and am waiting on my results for my National 5 maths exam which is the equivalent needed here for doing a post grad in teaching. I went to college and done my higher English at the same time. To a degree I think I definitely found it easier as an adult. And im atrocious at maths. Having said that I picked a terrible year to sit the exam - ours was so horrific this year it made the news across Scotland. So I will likely be doing the course again this year as an evening course....

toomuchicecream Wed 27-Jul-16 22:03:50

Don't forget you don't need to do a TA course to be a TA - I can't think of any TA I've ever worked with who did a course before getting the job. What you do need is experience of being in school and with children - volunteering is the easiest way to do that, which is easier said than done if you already have a full time job. But that volunteering doesn't have to be in a school - weekend or evening activities are good too. If you are already working with young people with disabilities, does that mean you would like to work in a primary school with children with disabilities? Or would you like to be a more general class TA? Would you consider working in a special school/SEN unit attached to a mainstream school? Our local ones advertise for TAs regularly - with your experience it could be a good way in to education. Once you are working as a TA, then you've got your springboard into mainstream, if that's what you want. What is it that attracts you to education?

WhenTheDragonsCame Wed 27-Jul-16 22:05:10

I did my GCSE maths and English a couple of years ago. I think if you haven't already got C or above it is free at college. I did mine for about 3 hours a week for a year then took my exams in June.

Before I started my maths was pretty bad, i think I got 21 out of 40 in the test I had to do to get on the course, and I managed to get a C without too much difficulty.

toomuchicecream Wed 27-Jul-16 22:05:48

I did my teacher training on the basis that if I didn't try, I'd never know if I could have done it or not. I decided I'd rather try, give it my best shot and fail than live with the knowledge that I wasn't brave enough to give it a go. 12 years later, I still love teaching - well - most of it anyway....

CointreauVersial Wed 27-Jul-16 22:06:58

Do it! I'm sure there are GCSE Maths evening courses for the more, er, mature amongst us.

Once you know the syllabus/exam board you'd be doing there are a multitude of workbooks and revision guides available.

age81 Wed 27-Jul-16 22:09:02

I applied to uni late many years ago and misplaced all my certificates. I sat equivalency test and that was accepted.

noblegiraffe Wed 27-Jul-16 22:10:28

You need to take your GCSE on a resit course preferably this November, by next June at the latest. These will be the last two legacy resits of the old GCSE course where you need a C to pass. The new GCSE, first sitting next June (the same time as the last legacy resit) is much harder, with more content, and harder to pass (the pass grade will be higher than the old C).

So that should be a kick up the arse to get it sorted smile

You need to get an account on and start working your way through the videos right away!

EskSmith Wed 27-Jul-16 22:12:11

Too much is right, you don't need a ta course to be a ta. Volunteering is a good way in. However a lack of maths GCSE would be more of a barrier to getting a ta job than lack of a ta course, so you really do need to go for it and do the maths GCSE.

chuffinalong Wed 27-Jul-16 22:31:12

Wow, thanks everyone! I will get onto the maths GCSE right away. Thanks noblegiraffe!
I think in that case, I'll get the GCSE sorted first and then apply to volunteer at a school. I wouldn't mind working in a special needs school at all! I think I might really enjoy that! My daughter is actually starting at a special needs school in September. I've joked with her about applying there, and to my surprise, she said she'd like that! smile

Coconutty Wed 27-Jul-16 22:35:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ClashCityRocker Wed 27-Jul-16 23:16:37

I retook GCSE maths got a b! and I'm a chartered accountant now grin

It made a lot more sense as an adult, I really agree with toomuch on that one. You can see why it would be useful to know how to do things and how it all fits together.

It's also a totally different environment from school - everyone is striving to get that pass, and my experience with adult education has been wholly positive in that respect.

Don't not do things for fear of making a fool of yourself; what would you tell a friend in your position? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be 'don't try, if you fail you'll look a twat'.

tararabumdeay Wed 27-Jul-16 23:29:33

Hello, I couldn't read and run so I've downloaded Chrome to get back to you

We love people like you in our college. We run evening classes or you could join a daytime class with the (mainly) teenage learners. Your influence in class, if you could fit into daytime, would be a bonus to everyone because of your experience and motivation. We also run a TA course on a Monday night. In our college that would be a clash so daytime class 3 hours a week plus two and a half TA on a Mon eve.

I can tell by your writing skills alone that if you did the work you'd be fine.

Do it now, as a poster above said, the legacy GCSE will be the last time for a A-G grade. After that it'll be 1 to 9 - which is a bit of an unknown quantity.

If you don't have a C or above grade at GCSE it should be free of charge - certainly is where I work. Don't let anyone take your money if this is the case.

Websites we use are MyMaths (don't know if you have to have College access to get into that); SkillsWise and BiteSize (both BBC).

If you wanted to do the GCSE online then Sheffield College are groundbreaking and fantastic. A real college with years of great results in both English and Maths. Sheffield College is very popular. Getting a place is first come first served and you have to be able to get to Sheffield for the exams. I think if you look for sheffcol online you'll find it.

GCSE Maths is very do-able if you do the work. It sounds, and looks like, you're very capable.

Good luck!

DomesticAnarchist Wed 27-Jul-16 23:29:51

Yes, you can definitely learn maths now, and there's a good chance you'll find it much easier!

When you're a kid your brain goes through lots of changes. There's a point at which it's capable of understanding abstract ideas. In other words, it's just not ready for some of the intangible abstract ideas in maths, physics, chemistry etc until a certain point. (That's not to say people before that point can't do those subjects, they just would probably find it much harder).

So as an adult, there's a strong possibility that you'll find it much easier than you did when you were a kid!

As for the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new trick. It's bollocks. The capability to learn remains throughout life, it's just the skills you use might change.

Plus, you have the motivation to do it now (also difficult to find when you're a teenager!)

Be brave! You might even enjoy it!

ChablisTyrant Wed 27-Jul-16 23:34:52

There is a site called citizen maths that you should work through before your course starts. It is designed for adults like you that haven't studied for a while: Don't panic about the new 1-9 grading. The government has announced that a grade 4 will suffice for most jobs. If you can get through quickly on the old A-G papers then great, but if not there is still a way.

Pestilence13610 Wed 27-Jul-16 23:38:31

Phone your local FE college, the courses are filling up.
GCSE Maths is free.
Most colleges offer a range of times, evening and daytime.
Get busy trying to remember some Maths, try this (get a cheap copy, read it like a novel and join in where you feel comfy. You don't have to rememer how to do quadratic equations, it just helps if you remember they exist), there is also loads of stuff online, get looking.
Some colleges are running the new GCSE this year.

KarmaNoMore Wed 27-Jul-16 23:42:54

Some universities accept functional skills level 2, but if you are not held back for university, you might be when looking for jobs as most require you to ha move the right GCSEs.

This doesn't necessarily means that you have to wait until you have the GCSE to apply, you can study on your own and present a test (it will be around £350 or free if your LA offers the courses)

tararabumdeay Wed 27-Jul-16 23:51:26

Thanks Chablis. I forgot to mention, Chuffinalong, that the GCSE at College is enrol Sep 16 and exam Jun 17 so 9 months not two years.

tararabumdeay Thu 28-Jul-16 00:01:27

When you do enrol don't forget to mention to your tutor whether you feel you need access arrangements such as extra time,use of a computer, quiet exam room, a reader or a scribe. You still have all that available as a mature/part time student.

It's a 45 minute appointment - only if you think you need it and I'm not suggesting you do but it's there. Your tutor will be able to advise you. Don't be afraid to ask.

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