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How Mel overcame her fear of maths to take the next step into nursing

21 Jan 2020

By Lizzie Green, Communications Assistant

Mel works for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and needed to boost her confidence with numbers to move on in her career.

Before taking the Challenge how would you describe your feelings about maths?

Numbers scared me. I just did not like maths, I thought I could never do it. I had no confidence even to try because I knew I was absolutely useless at it and I didn’t have a clue where to start. I would look at my daughter’s homework and think “oh my god, how do you do that?”

I had tried to do Functional Skills before... it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do

Does this sound like you? You can learn while supporting children, try the Family Maths Toolkit!


What impact did this have on your career?

Maths was holding me back from the career that I’d chosen for myself. I wanted to move from being a nursing assistant to take the Trainee Nursing Associate course. To do that you need to do maths Functional Skills to get into university. 

I had tried to do Functional Skills before, but it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. At one point I wanted to give up the whole thing, even though I had got through and passed lots of the work, I just didn’t think I could get over the hardest hurdle of maths. 


How did the National Numeracy Challenge help you get the qualification you needed?

Claire from the Learning and Development team at my trust, who is a National Numeracy champion, was my knight in shining armour. She recommended the National Numeracy Challenge to me as an extra resource to help and was able to support me through with my learning. 

I worked on the Challenge at home because I found it easier to concentrate. I did an hour in the evening just to keep myself going. It helped me to keep up with revision and to keep it fresh and that definitely helped me get through my exam.

I've now achieved my level 2 Functional Skills in maths and joined the Training Nursing Associate apprenticeship programme.

I am much more confident


Did you notice any other changes since taking the Challenge?

In my work maths is really important – you need it for medication, observations, news scores. It’s there on a daily basis so it's good to feel more confident. 

Also, I have been able to help my daughter with her homework – I recently taught her about fractions and other things she’s struggled with and now she’s moving up in maths. Now I know I can actually help her and I’m a proud mummy! 

Actually, my son also benefited from the extra help from me too. He was also struggling with the maths he needed to move forward in his career and we were able to overcome that hurdle together. We started our new careers on the same day – he is going into policing and I’m starting at university – a perfect moment for mother and son to be honest with you. 

How do you feel about maths now? 

I used to be terrified of doing anything with maths, but now I’ve gone through the journey to where I am now I am much more confident. I’m going to continue with the Challenge going forward because I will need numeracy through university. 

Try the National Numeracy Challenge

However you feel about maths, you’re not alone. The National Numeracy Challenge is a free and easy-to-use website you can use to improve your confidence with numbers, in your own time and at your own pace.

It’s ideal for brushing up, checking your level, or for catching up on learning you missed, and it’s all about the maths you need in daily life and at work – no algebra or trigonometry.

Image showing the Challenge on a computer monitor