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Overcoming my maths 'achilles heel' at work

Rachel shares her feelings towards numbers and how a chance encounter with the online Challenge tool changed her life.

Tell us a bit about your experiences with numbers in the past.

I've had a successful career and I'm currently a senior manager in the Civil Service. I have to regularly make complex decisions, put together budgets, interpret data and work out performance targets. However, I've struggled with numeracy all my life.

Originally, I wanted to be a teacher but I didn't have the maths qualification and never really found the right resources. I felt that it was too difficult, which impacted on my confidence and was a barrier to me progressing in life. It's been my Achilles heel, so I've just put it to one side and focused on other strengths.

How has our online service helped you?

It's no exaggeration when I say that it has been, potentially, life-changing.

For me, the issue was around confidence and accessibility. The Challenge tool assisted with this and l love that it can be used at work or at home and in bite sized chunks, as long as you have access to the internet. And it's free!

Why should people bother improving their skills?

It can help enormously to go back to the basics, to refresh learning or identify gaps. I'd also recommend lots of practice, especially if confidence has been an issue. The feeling of achievement (and relief!) when you understand something that didn't previously make sense is incredibly rewarding.

Learning something new can be difficult. However, it helps if you break it down into manageable sections and plan when you are going to practice. It's similar to building up your physical fitness. You wouldn't rush to do a marathon until you had improved your stamina and motivation over a period of time. The same principle applies.

What are your goals now for the future?

I have a specific goal; which is to reach Level 1 by September. Hopefully I'll then keep going and reach Level 2 and be able to say I've got the Essentials of Numeracy.

It's all about attitudes of mind and confidence. I've got the motivation, I've got the time and now I've got the resources. I will definitely recommend the Challenge to colleagues and I can even see how this might benefit the service users that we work with as they are members of society who are often marginalised.

It's no exaggeration when I say that it has been, potentially, life-changing."