But the 36-year-old is now reaching the end of a postgraduate course at Manchester Metropolitan University and cannot wait to work in secondary schools.
He decided on a career change after several years working for Asda and took a maths foundation course and then a BSc with the Open University. However, he says it was tutors at Manchester Met who opened his eyes to aspects of maths he had never considered before.
"They want you to be completely literate with your subject. You cannot just write 'Y equals MX plus C'. You have to be able to explain why it is interesting."
He hopes his own early difficulties with maths will make it easier for him to engage with recalcitrant pupils when he starts his first teaching post in September at Copley high in Stalybridge, Cheshire.
"If I'd stayed in education my career could have been different - more academic perhaps. I want pupils to have the opportunities that I did not."