Report card: evaluation of Skills For Life progress
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06 November 2009
Skills for Life Report Card
A report card published by NIACE highlights the progress made to help adults with low literacy and numeracy skills through the Government's Skills for Life strategy, but insists that more help is needed for numeracy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and those with the poorest skills.
The publication of the Moser Report - 'A Fresh Start - Improving Literacy and Numeracy', (DfEE 1999), reported that 7 million adults in England, roughly one in five of the population, had low levels of literacy skills. The situation for numeracy was worse, with estimates of the number of adults having some numeracy difficulties ranging from 30% - 50%. The report also found that 60% of people in prison had low literacy and numeracy skills.
As a result of recommendations made in the Moser Report, the Government launched its Skills for Life strategy in 2001 - a radical and successful strategy transforming the teaching of adult literacy, language and numeracy skills in England.
- there has been £5 billion invested in Skills for Life between 2001 and 2008
- 5.7 million adult learners have taken up 12 million Skills for Life learning opportunities (including ESOL)
- over 2.8 million adults have gained a first qualification counting towards the Public Service Agreement (PSA) target
- the PSA target to improve the literacy, language and numeracy skills of 2.25 million adults by 2010 was met in June 2008, over two years early
- the expected Learning and Skills Council (LSC) spend on Skills for Life will exceed £1 billion in 2009-10, with three-quarters of that targeted at adults over 19, with a large emphasis on numeracy
- 541,500 adults gained literacy, language or numeracy qualifications in 2007/8
there are 18,800 Skills for Life teachers (full time equivalent) with approximately 6,000 teaching numeracy, 8,000 teaching literacy and 9,000 teaching ESOL
- there is a target of 597,000 literacy qualifications to be achieved between 2008 and 2011
- 390,000 numeracy qualifications to be achieved over the same period
Carol Taylor, Director of Operations at NIACE, said:
"Ten years on from the Moser Report, the teaching of literacy and numeracy is no longer seen as the 'Cinderella service' it once was. Over the last decade the quality in teaching has improved considerably - helped through the professionalisation of the workforce and an interactive adult curriculum, resulting in a huge increase in the number of adults with improved skills."
"Literacy, numeracy and language remain an essential part of the lifelong learning system. The Moser Report and the Skills for Life survey clearly identified the scale of need for adult literacy and numeracy. Whilst much has been achieved in the last ten years, we have to recognise that there are still many adults who have poor literacy and numeracy skills. There are significant challenges around those adults, particularly with the poorest skills who are inevitably the hardest to reach and their difficulties are exacerbated during the recession."
"We believe that literacy, language and numeracy are fundamental human rights and help people to take control of their lives, become active community members, to participate in the digital revolution and to shape their own futures."
Skills for Life impact evaluation October 2009.
Longitudinal Survey of Adult Learners on College-based Literacy and Numeracy Courses