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Pencil sharpener, protractor, and lunchbox – my satchel’s packed, I’m ready for school!


As a 40 year old adult, I’ve discovered a real desire to brush up on some of the learning skills and opportunities that as a child I took for granted and know that I never reached my full potential on.

 This epiphany-like moment occurred whilst having struggled, yet again to understand another piece of seemingly impossible maths homework brought home by my 13 year old son. There and then, I made the decision to head back into the learning arena and brush up on my maths. Yes…I’m going back to school. Thankfully the virtual variety, as opposed to the red bricked, imposing building I attended as a child.  

So, I completed an on-line assessment, to determine the GCSE level I’m at, 24 years after taking my original O level equivalent. To my absolute delight, I did far better than I had thought I would and, according to my results, should I re-sit my maths GCSE today, I’d gain between an A and C grade. Bring on the certificate!

Feeling on a roll from this recent maths success, and wanting to continue on the path of adult learning that I am now eagerly treading, I decided to pick up where I’d left off musically as a child, by acquiring a beautiful clarinet. I loved playing the clarinet as a 12 year old, however, the constant need to be practicing scales, and a music teacher pushing me to take exams took the wind out of my musical sails and foolishly I gave up playing. 28 years on, my clarinet now takes pride of place in its own stand, with a basket full of music scores of some of my favourite songs, ready to play whenever I feel the urge. 

So many of us give up on learning. It’s as though we close our minds to further educating ourselves the minute we leave the school system potentially from the age of 16 onwards. It’s taken me to the ripe age of 40 to be able to find the time to recognise the advantages that further education can bring. The potential benefits are numerous. Promotion and a higher rate of pay are more likely to be offered to those who are up to date with the latest information and technology. It’s all well and good telling your employer that you have an O’level in computer studies, but that doesn’t hold much water if you learnt on a Sinclair Spectrum back in 1986.

The benefits aren’t all financially related either. My levels of self esteem went through the roof, having been told that I’d done really well in the maths test. For me, that has been the catalyst that has given me the impetus to want to continue learning. Reaching for heights that you may think unattainable, and then achieving them can give a huge boost to your confidence.  

Rediscovering my desire to learn again has been a real eye opener. Maybe it’s because I’m not being pressurised to achieve, that I have found the drive to want to apply myself and further my learning. So move over Einstein and Beethoven….I’m on a mission.


4 Responses

  1. Maths GCSE on-line assessment

    Hi, Jo


    Thanks for your srticle. I sympathise – I’m also struggling to keep up with my son’s GCSE maths.

    Could you send me a link to the on-line assessment to which you refer please?

    All the best,

    Paul Whitehead



  2. online assesment

    Hi Paul,

    Many thanks for the message. The company is LearnDirect, you need to register on the site below, and this will lead you to the online assessment. Once you’ve completed the assessment, they’ll let you know how you’ve done, and depending on your result, will either direct you to a learning centre where you can sit the exam should you want to, or as far as i’m aware, complete an online course if they feel you need further help.

    I hope this helps and good luck!

    Kind regards


  3. Mock Exam Paper

    Trust me Becky, I thought that i’d be scraping the bottom of the academic bucket when i took that test. The maths homework that both my children come home with appears to be beyond anything I’d learnt at that age, and beyond come to think about it!


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