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Nurse Educ Today. 2010 May;30(4):321-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2009.08.008. Epub 2009 Sep 20.

Literacy and numeracy for pre-registration nursing programmes: 1. An innovative way to widen access to nursing programmes for students without formal qualifications by enabling them to give evidence of their literacy and numeracy skills.

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  • 1Faculty of Health, Staffordshire University, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Mytton Oak Road, Shrewsbury SY3 8XQ, United Kingdom.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2003) removed standard entry criteria for nursing programmes and asked Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to consider the literacy and numeracy skills of prospective students. This triggered admissions staff within a Faculty of Health to consider ways of attracting people with the right skills but not the qualifications to prove it. It is important to encourage a wide range of people into nursing to meet the demands of strategic plans and policy, as well as to ensure the nursing profession reflects the diverse client groups it serves. Removing standard entry criteria and the widening participation agenda gave an ideal opportunity to try something new. A course entitled 'Portfolio of Evidence for Entry to Level 1 Study' was developed within the Faculty of Health at Staffordshire University to enable potential nursing students without standard entry qualifications to demonstrate their skills in numeracy and literacy. This paper reports on the background to this course and its success for three student cohorts (over an 18 month period) who have completed their first year of pre-registration nursing. The methodology employed is descriptive, qualitative analysis, comparing portfolio and standard entry students' assignment results.

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