This article was originally published on Nexus Education on 6th July 2022.
When Peter joined SJ's class to resit his Maths GCSE, she couldn’t have anticipated how much she’d learn.
Peter* joined my GCSE resit maths class with all my other adults. Some were taking maths for the third or 4th time, but this was Peter’s first attempt. Peter was aged 74 and had left school 60 years previously. The courage from him to rejoin education inspired me, I was honoured to have him in my class. After an initial connection over the similar ages of my children and Peter’s grandchildren, we began with some assessments. Very quickly my teacher sense was alerted to the fact that there was a challenge Peter was facing. It became clear that Peter was struggling. His maths skills were great but the initial understanding of the question was a challenge.
In preparation for the GCSE exam, I arranged for the SEND team to assess Peter for exam access arrangements. It was agreed that Peter could access a reader, coloured paper and extra time.
Both Equatio and Read&Write can be used as readers in exams and Peter couldn’t believe that his familiar tools would come with him into the exam room, his normal way of working could be applied in his exam.
The courage and bravery of Peter to return to study knowing that reading was a challenge is inspiring. Peter had gone through life not knowing who, how, or what tools could help. I am thankful that FE exists to support adult students like Peter. I am also thankful that tools now exist that enable so many students to discreetly access support. If we are truly going to arrive at normal ways of working for exam regulations we need to equip students with the technology, tools and resources needed so that, every day and in every classroom and at home, they are supported.
Peter chose to sit the foundation paper and achieved a grade 5. All the maths teachers reading will be pleased to know that Peter proudly shared with the students that he had used most of the content of GCSE maths throughout his life, and I can now cite him when I have students querying, “When will I ever use this?”.