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'Maths is beautiful'

Martin Dunbar-Hall was in his late thirties when he decided on a dramatic life change - from a career in sales to teaching science. He says that after leaving school he had regretted not moving on to higher education. "I always thought to myself 'What if I had stayed on? What if I had gone to university'?" he says.

He began his route back into learning by completing some basic UfIlearndirect ICT courses, and a pre-GCSE maths qualification. He also gained experience by volunteering and working with learning support in local schools.

Martin, 40 (right) , from Croydon in Surrey, is now taking an access course at Croydon college and has had conditional offers to study biochemistry at university from September. After that he aims to take a postgraduate certificate in education.

The maths he is studying on his access course is equivalent to A-level. But he says he found maths a stumbling block at school - he failed his CSE.

"To be honest, I simply didn't like it then. I knew I had to do it but it was a case of standing up in front of the rest of the class and making a fool of myself. And you think: 'Why me?' and 'Why doesn't it go in?'

"Every other subject was fine. I didn't do particularly well in my A-levels, but I did them - it was just maths."

But he says a layman's interest in science in adulthood has since drawn him into the subject. "All the way along I have had an interest in astronomy and in science in general. And, in reading around the subjects, I was able to teach myself to a degree. I developed an understanding of how things work and how beautiful maths can be - and how integral it is to life."

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