Voices of adult maths learners

25th June 2013

The personal accounts of adults who have overcome their fear of maths learning to improve life and work prospects for themselves and their families, have been published today by NIACE as part of the national Maths4Us initiative.

Research from NRDC has shown that the biggest single factor in adults not taking up maths learning is fear. Voices of adult maths learners illustrates how adults’ involvement in learning has increased their confidence and enabled them to both continue learning and to progress at work, reinforcing the important policy message that maths learning for adults is not only good for the individual it also benefits the economy.

Voices of adult maths learners outlines NIACE’s commitment to listen to adult learners and to promote the key Maths4Us messages:

  • Everyone uses maths everyday – and everyone can get better at it.
  • Better maths means you can make your money go further.
  • Improving your maths is infectious: children, grandchildren and friends will learn from you.
  • The more able and confident you are with maths, the stronger your job prospects.
  • Learning maths as an adult is different to how you learnt it at school.

Duncan Rothery, 2012 Adult Learners’ Week award winner featured in Voices of adult maths learners, said:

“All my family are well educated and successful in what they do. This was my inspiration to grab my chance, work hard and tackle my long-term fear of maths. The atmosphere in class was very different to school; it was very relaxed and unpressured. The Duncan of the old days who used to run away from maths is gone. I’ve learned to be different.”

Lucy Gee, 2012 Adult Learners’ Week award winner featured in Voices of adult maths learners, said:

“For me, the main factor in taking part in learning maths was that it was at my son’s school, so I was already there and the teacher was really lovely. I went on to further study by doing an Access to HE course and I’ve now started a degree in Education Studies. My long term dream is to finish this course and do a PGCE to teach children. If anyone asked me whether they should take up maths learning I would say, put aside any issues – give maths a go, it’s not as scary as people think.”

Paul Brian Greasly, 2013 Adult Learners’ Week nominee featured in Voices of adult maths learners, said:

“I would advise anyone thinking of doing some maths to just do it. Get over that initial feeling of ‘it’s going to be like going back to school’. If it was someone my age, in my situation, I’d say look to yourself and what it’s going to do for you. Maths is in everything we do, it’s all around us. Persevere and you’ll realise you can do it too.”

Kylie McKay, featured in Voices of adult maths learners, said:

“I wanted to learn maths mainly to help my children. My eldest is eight now and bringing maths homework to me and I really didn’t want to have to go to the school and ask them to explain it to me. Now I don’t have to because I understand it. It has really helped me to feel a lot more confident.”

Carol Taylor, NIACE Director of Development and Research, said:

“This publication is one in a series by NIACE that uses real voices to highlight how learners feel, what they have done and the impact that learning as an adult has had on their lives. Hearing from these brave and capable adults enables us to reflect on how we support our children to become confident in maths, how we help adults to recognise all the ways in which maths is integral to their lives and how great people feel when they gain confidence and are no longer afraid of maths.”