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

21 Jan 2020

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

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. 

Find out more about maths anxiety

What is a fear of maths, how does it affect people and their lives, and what can you do to help? National Numeracy has collected a variety of research, stories from real people, and advice about maths anxiety.

Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!

National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy.