Molli, age 22, is a Teaching Assistant at Manorfield Primary School. She has always struggled with maths, but but with lots of support from her tutor Salma and maths specialist Lisa, she has increased her confidence, passed her exam, completed her apprenticeship and secure a full time postion at the school.
“I have had a long hard journey with maths. It has not been easy. My problems with maths started in secondary school, I often struggled in class to understand what my teacher was trying to teach me, and a lot of my teachers took that as I was not paying attention and I was not bothered. I was eventually just written off as the child that does not do their work or talks throughout the lesson. My teacher eventually stopped trying to explain the lessons to me and stopped giving me work to complete. It was because they were not sure how to deal with my struggles with maths. I always knew that my struggles are different to others my age, things I should really understand I do not but unfortunately, my teachers never took me seriously when I raised concerns of dyscalculia. I went into my GCSEs knowing I was not going to pass. If I am honest with you, I gave up by that point. I found any sort of maths question extremely frustrating. I would even scribble all over the page out of frustration. I would throw it in the bin or sometimes even cry.
Once my results came, of course I failed. I got a three, but as I said before I did not really care, I had given up. I had passed my other GCSE and took that as a positive. I started college and I had to retake. I went through my year at college with the same attitude with maths and eventually ended up with a worse grade of two. At this point I absolutely despised maths, I just could not do it and I refused to partake in anything to do with maths. I became insecure to apply to certain jobs due to not having a full set of GCSEs. I ended up working in restaurants working long hours with not enough money.
Eventually my mental health started to get affected and I decided it was time for a change. This is when I found inspiration for ATA. Everything was going great, I loved my placement, I was breezing through the work, but then I realised I had to pass maths to be able to achieve the qualification and what I want in my life. Now I did not take this easy, I was worried that I had achieved so much, completed all my assignments, made so much professional progress but maths will stand in my way.
That is when my tutor Salma put me in contact with the LMP maths specialist Lisa. Before my meeting I went onto BKSB and wrote a list of things I struggle with in maths, and this list was an exceedingly lengthy list. I had no hope for myself, I thought I was beyond helping if I am honest. I remember telling Lisa that I would be her worst nightmare as I struggle so much. I read my long list out to Lisa, and she began working with me straight away on what I struggle with.
Lisa took the time to sit with me and find my struggles and how I best learn and that really boosted my confidence. I took some mock tests, and the results were not great. This is where it really sunk in for me that I am going to struggle, and this is going to be unbelievably hard. I had to weigh out my options and I refused to let maths take this career changing opportunity from me. I knew that If I had any hope Lisa would be it, I just had to be completely honest with her and my tutor about how I feel and how frustrated I am.
LMP assessed my work and finally confirmed what I had suspected for many, many years that I have dyscalculia. The relief I felt that finally someone had listened to me and clarified that I do have struggles and even though I have a learning disability Lisa made it clear that it will not stop me from getting my maths, but I just have to work for it.
Lisa made room for me to have extra sessions and I never ever got the impression that I was causing frustration because I could not understand, she would talk me through it as many times as I needed. She really helped my mental health during this stage of my apprenticeship as I was really upset and frustrated at myself for still not understanding. I was worried that I would never pass this, and it was going to stand in the way of my career. Lisa would set me mock exams and I would complete them, but I ensured I watched a couple of videos on YouTube, including Mr Jay’s maths and complete some extra revision on the side. Lisa was so attentive and would always ask me what I am struggling with, and the lessons felt very structured around what I needed. If I ever wanted extra work or I was struggling with a question I knew I could just email her, and she would be there to help.
Lisa then identified that I could apply for extra time due to my learning disability. This is not guaranteed. Now I did not think I would get the extra time however Lisa made it happen. I was over the moon; I just could not believe that I had met Lisa not so long ago and she had already made such an impact on my maths skills. No teacher has ever been able to do this for me, I went from getting 40% to 80% and my confidence just skyrocketed.
Now I am not saying that gaining these maths skills was easy, it took a lot of work on my part. Lisa cannot complete my work for me and make me remember, that is down to me. So, I would take notes during our session and try to do an hour of maths every other day. This was the only way I was going to pass this with lots of hard work and determination.
Lisa booked my final exam, and I will be completely honest. I did not think I would pass straight away; I thought I would be close, but I would not get it. This started to make me a little stressed and worried about what might happen if I fail. I was just honest with Lisa. I told her my worries and she reassured me that she will have meetings with me right up until the morning of my exam and that if I fail, she will support me in identifying the areas that need support and we will book me in again straight away. She was able to make me feel really calm about the situation ahead, as I had finished all my assignments, it was just maths left. So, I started to revise more, an hour or two of maths everyday up until me exam. I would sit and tell myself that it will all be worth it eventually. I even started to follow maths pages on social media so I could revise in my spare time such as waiting for the bus.
The morning of my exam I met with Lisa and heard a few words of wisdom and went through some things before my exam. I was extremely nervous about the exam before I spoke to Lisa, she really made me feel so relaxed about the whole thing that I went into the exam feeling so calm. I have never sat an exam with that feeling of calm before. That in itself, was an achievement for me.
The exam finished and I could not tell how I did, I did not want to get my hopes up, so I messaged Lisa to let her know how it went and then tried to forget about it. A week later I got the results and the joy in her voice when she told me I passed, brought me to tears. I genuinely could not believe I did it, there was no way I thought I was going to pass the first time. Hearing how happy and how proud she was as well as Emily and Salma really made me feel so proud of myself. That is it now, I can do my final assessment, pass my apprenticeship and finally get the job at my placement.
Once I got home and was able to process that I passed, I did not know what to do. I passed something that I never ever thought I would be able to, in all honesty I thought I was a lost cause, but Lisa really helped me see through that, she really helped me be calm and identify where I am going wrong. When I first started with Lisa, maths looked like an alien language, and I would do my best to stay away from it. Now I can stand here and say I have a maths qualification that is equivalent to a GCSE and that is all down to Lisa and myself. But I honestly would not have been able to achieve this if she had not listened to me, understood me and worked with me in a way I understand instead of the uniform way that everyone is supposed to. Everything happens for a reason, I just needed somebody I could be totally honest with about my struggles, and they would take me seriously. Lisa did that for me and now I am able to start a career that I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl.”
Molli, SEN Teaching Assistant Apprentice
Lisa Gallagher, Functional Skills Maths Specialist at LMP Education added “We are all so pleased with Molli’s determination to overcome her fear of maths and so proud of her recent results. We are here to support all learners in maths during their apprenticeships so please do not let anxiety of maths stop you for applying for an apprenticeship. It only takes one person to unlock what you know and to show you how to apply this going forward. Well done Molli from everyone at LMP and Inspire.”