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Fourth Time Lucky For Aspiring Teacher Helped by BGS

Published by Bradford Grammar School on Thursday 24th of August 2023

A primary school worker who failed her Maths GCSE three times over several years was overjoyed to finally pass her exam today so she can pursue her dream of being a teacher.
Jess Ward, 29, of Thackley, Bradford, was lost for words when she collected her Grade 5 result from Bradford Grammar School today (BGS) where she had sat her maths exam as an external candidate.


Jess, a high-level teaching assistant at Holybrook Primary School, in Bradford, sat her first Maths exam 13 years ago. After two further failed attempts, she’d almost given up hope when Paul Merckx, Assistant Head (Development) at BGS encouraged her to ‘go for it’ and supported her throughout 12 months of studying as she continued to work full time.


Said Jess: “I’m best friends with Paul’s stepdaughter, Jordane, and we’d gone for a walk one day and I was saying: ‘I want more from life, I want to progress and be more than a teaching assistant.’


“I did go to university to study PE but I could never get my maths and without it I couldn’t move on and study for a PGCE. Resitting it so many times, it became traumatic when I kept failing.


“I was talking to Jordane while on the walk and Paul later said if I went for it, he would support me through it. He told me I could do it when I didn’t think it was possible.”


When Jess picked up her result today she was lost for words.


“I’ve propped it on my countertop and I keep looking at it and thinking it’s going to change,” she laughed. “I couldn’t speak when I read the result. It’s taken such a long time to get here. I’m so proud of myself.”


Paul said: “Jess has gone from not understanding numbers to achieving a Grade 5 pass in a year. It’s quite extraordinary. It’s all due to her hard work. The thing I’m most proud of is that she’s had many bumps in the road and she’s never given up. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her.”


Jess now has plans to pursue a teaching qualification.


“I’d love to teach in Egypt,” she said. “The world’s my oyster now!”


“The thing I’m most proud of is that she’s had many bumps in the road and she’s never given up. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her.”


Paul Merckx, Assistant Head (Development)

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