Chichester teacher helping with regaining confidence in maths

Vicky meets... Emma Purdy, Maths Teacher

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 12:17 pm
Emma Purdy teaching a student
Emma Purdy teaching a student

How did you become a maths teacher?

I had a place on an English Degree, but I decided it wasn’t for me. I applied for some teaching assistant jobs and became a Maths Teaching Assistant in a secondary school. I loved the job so much that I applied for a Teaching and Mathematics Degree. I went on to teach at St Philip Howard Catholic High School, where I taught Mathematics for six years. After I had my son, I left to teach GCSE Mathematics resit at a college and also to set up my maths tuition business.

Maths can be a Marmite subject. How do you help children who really struggle with it?

All the students I teach find some difficulty in different areas of Mathematics and almost all of them lack confidence. I work on unpicking misconceptions. I often have to go back to work from previous school years, where the student is lacking the foundation knowledge that, within school, they’re trying to build upon. I work with a lot of manipulative learning tools such as Algebra Tiles and Dienes Blocks. These allow students to work with something concrete before moving onto abstract work. I also encourage students to try using different methods – multiple methods are much more acceptable these days.

What’s the best single piece of advice you can give to anyone studying Maths?

Practise makes perfect, so do some little and often. But ensure that it is being marked to see where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Do adults need a helping hand with maths too?

I teach from KS2 (7 years old) to GCSE, but that also includes students aged 16 years plus who are retaking their GCSE. But I have also helped adults who are taking numeracy assessments as part of their teaching and nursing degrees.

Exams can be tough, even for children who excel at maths. What advice can you offer students who suffer with nerves?

Finding ways to relax during revision time is so important. I’m involved in a revision retreat that will take place on February 19 in Chichester with Science Teacher Nikki Hazel, from West Sussex Science Tutor, English tutor Catherine Jones from Bersted Learning and Nicki Bulger from Yogabellies. The aim is to offer revision sessions to students, but also provide them with some relaxation. There is also someone coming to talk about Healing Breath and all students receive Aromatherapy Oil roller balls to use during revision and in the exams. I work a lot on exam techniques, including how to remember and recall important facts and formulae.

And what do YOU do to relax and forget about figures for a while?

I love to read when I get time. A thriller with lots of twists and turns ideally.

Where can people find out more about your services and the workshop?

Find me on Facebook: Just Learn. The revision retreat is at the Tim Peake Sports Centre, Chichester High School. Visit