We support Personal Goals

GCSEs after leaving school for medical reasons

Rebecca Howard

Rebecca studied GCSE Maths, Psychology and English Language with NEC after having to leave school for medical reasons.

In Year 8 I was hospitalised with Crohn’s Disease along with my twin sister. This put my education on hold. I did get a small amount of work sent home while recovering, but this was not enough to help me. Maths has always been a particular struggle for me – for some reason I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. When I was recovering from Crohn’s I was even more behind and much more anxious about it.

In Year 11 I left school to be homeschooled full time. School wasn’t really working because of Crohn’s disease and I was so far behind, I just didn’t know where to start. I didn’t use distance learning at the time and relied solely on Maths books. I finished school with an E in Maths. Of course I wasn’t happy with the grade. However, at this time, I was still struggling with Crohn’s (especially fatigue) and still hadn’t dealt with my anxiety and depression.

In college I began a BTEC Creative Media course whilst doing Functional Maths and English. At this point I had no idea what I wanted to study at university, I just knew I needed to pass Maths! My previous perception of Maths was very much still there and it made the situation harder. Meanwhile, Crohn’s had settled down, but I was still struggling with the mental health side of things. Again… I failed Maths with one mark off of a pass.

Two years later when I plucked up the courage to face Maths again and hopefully pass, I applied for a grant from Crohn’s & Colitis UK to study with the National Extension College (NEC) – kindly they agreed to help fund the courses. I was in a much better head space and I was handling the disease much better. This time round I had even more determination to pass Maths. I wanted to approach it in a different way, I didn’t want to tell myself that I couldn’t do it. I realised that this way of approaching Maths was counterproductive. I had to have a positive attitude and needed to enjoy what I was doing to do well.

Studying with NEC allowed me to use my time how I wanted without being restricted by a timetable. I could make mistakes in Maths in my own time and figure out a way of learning the content in my way, there was no pressure. Slowly Maths became comfortable and, dare I say, enjoyable. 

I let myself make mistakes and learn from them rather than worrying about failure. The knowledge I gained through my other NEC course, GCSE Psychology, allowed me to see Maths from a new angle; I saw a reason for learning Maths and how important it is! I am pleased to say that my new approach and the help from NEC has paid off as I passed this time round. It has taught me so much more than school could have done.