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Money Management LR

Q&A with Maths and Mastery Specialist and Multiply Lead Teacher, Natacha Shakil

Celebrating Lifelong Learning Week, we caught up with NSCG's Maths and Mastery Specialist and Multiply Lead Teacher, Natacha Shakil to hear all about her own experiences of returning to education in her thirties to gain her GCSE Maths which led to her completing an Access to Higher Diploma and degree.

Q. What made you decide to return to education as an adult learner?

A. I didn't actually finish school, so I had no qualifications. After bringing up four children, I was in my early thirties and really wanted to make a change. At the time, I was delivering sewing classes and supporting learners in education, but the adult funding available changed and everything became certificated, so I needed recognised qualifications. I took the big decision to go back to college to study for my GCSE Maths, hoping that this would open up lots of opportunities for me.

I had always enjoyed and had the ability to explain things differently to make things more accessible. I had supported in maths classes and done really well. I was sure I was capable of something, but I didn’t know what and I had no benchmark as to what I could do, so I wanted to find out and this was the perfect start.

Q. Did studying for your GCSE Maths give you the confidence to continue studying?

A. Definitely! It meant everything to me and I needed that to prove to myself I was good at maths, and if I was going to teach maths that was my key to development. I got a grade A but went back and did it again to get an A*. Studying for my GCSE maths really opened up my eyes to what I could achieve.

After dipping my toe into education, I then chose to study for an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Sociology and Criminology) which is a fantastic course for adult learners who didn't achieve the grades they needed when they were younger.
After the Access course, I then went on to study for a BA Hons Education and Professional Development achieving a 2:1.

Q. How did you find studying alongside your family commitments?

A. Being completely honest, I found studying with a family extremely challenging, but I never thought I would go to university and so I was determined to prove to myself and others that I could do it. But also it was a valuable lesson to my children, to work hard at school and do it while they are young and supported. Studying develops your character and general skills, time management, application, commitment, resilience. So it made me a better person and a mother I feel.

Q. What would your advice be to anyone thinking of heading back to college?

A. Go for it, but you have to be prepared to commit 100%, no matter what comes up. Plan your study time, family time and most importantly, enjoy it.

Q. Tell us all about the Multiply programme, and how you hope to help adult learners to become more confident with numbers?

A. I'm so pleased to be able to be working with adult learners out in the community and also in college to spread the word about the Government's new Multiply project offering adults FREE courses and initiatives to help you brush up on your numeracy skills. I've been there so I completely understand what a big decision it is to even think about signing up for a course, but our sessions are welcoming and informal and you will get to learn alongside adults in a similar position. We don't take ourselves too seriously and we are here to help learners to develop skills to help their children with their homework, in their jobs and everyday lives.

The Multiply project is the perfect first step to returning to study, and our courses are tailored to meet the needs of the learners and build confidence that you can do it! Multiply will strengthen the skills you have, when budgeting, cooking, planning and helping your children and young people with their homework. We all do maths in every day life and work and the aim of our courses is to, help you use it to your advantage.

Q. What kind of skills will learners develop?

A. Most importantly, the confidence to tackle what is sometimes a tricky subject. As the kids come back with homework, it can be quite overwhelming even at primary school level, so we will help learners to break down those barriers, learn lots of hints and tips around how best to tackle what does come home and how parents can support their children with primary maths and also GCSE Maths. Afterall, helping the children should be a great bonding exercise and we can definitely help to boost your confidence. Who knows! this could be just the start of a learning journey.

Interested in improving your maths skills? Register your interest here to attend an upcoming Multiply course.