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Julie McNaughton, 49, from Gwinear, is doing English and Maths GCSE this year. She’s a senior Cornwall Care home manager who has never liked exams but needs to pass them for her assistant practitioner course.

“I lost my original certificates,” says Julie. “I think managers should be able to step into every role in a home when necessary – including the nursing one. That’s why I wanted to do the two-year medical skills training and why I’m currently studying maths and English so I can graduate next summer.”

Julie started her career as a carer in 1988 when, at just sixteen years old, she joined a youth training scheme at Headlands home in Carbis Bay. She became a full-time Cornwall Care employee in 1997 and has been with the charity ever since. Based at St Martin’s home in Camborne, she is cluster lead for four homes.

“I love my job and feel I have a lot more to give,” she said. “Cornwall Care positively encourages all staff to continue developing their skills, so I was able to arrange lessons with our in-house English and Maths tutor Anthony White. It was nerve-wracking to start with, but Anthony is very patient when there’s something I don’t understand and we often end up laughing.”

Julie takes part in one group session per week at St Martin’s and does two internet-based one-to-one lessons. She has just taken her English GCSE and will be taking Maths later this year.

It was National Numeracy Day this week and, to mark the occasion, Cornwall Care staff were invited to ‘drop-in’ via the internet to find out more about how they could also improve their arithmetic.

“I was really pleased with the response,” said Anthony, who taught in primary schools for 25 years. “A lot of people have hang-ups about their school days. My job is to encourage them by putting some basic building blocks in place and then moving forward at the learner’s own pace.

“One lady summed it up as ‘facing her fear and having a go’. Another said she realised she needed help when she couldn’t work out the cost of a new handbag advertising a 25% discount. Numbers are an important part of our everyday lives and it’s important to feel confident about using them.”

According to the National Numeracy Day website, a half of all adults struggle with maths.

“Giving people what they need to realise their own potential is very dear to my heart,” said Cornwall Care CEO Anne Thomas. “We invest in training because giving staff the opportunity to upskill and move on in their careers benefits us as an organisation, as well as the individual.”

For more information about Cornwall Care, visit www.cornwallcare.com