Cross-Government action essential to address low literacy and numeracy

12 December 2014

Commenting on the Government’s response to the BIS Select Committee Report on adult literacy and numeracy, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“I’m pleased that the Government shares the BIS Select Committee’s appreciation of the urgency of the situation. Far too many adults in this country have limited life chances because they don’t have the opportunities they need to improve their English and maths. This has a huge impact on them, their families, our society and our economy.

“The Government does invest in learning which makes a difference and as the response shows there are a range of ways through which the Government is trying to learn more about what works in motivating people to learn and achieve literacy and numeracy skills. This includes work NIACE has been involved in – our maths app, the implementation of the new GCSEs, the English and maths RCT and intensive learning piloted in prisons based on the Army’s successful model.

“I am also pleased that the Government is supporting our work on another of our innovations – the Citizens’ Curriculum. This fits in with the Government’s recognition of need for locally focussed and delivered activity which is flexible and relevant to each learner. It is also encouraging to see the recognition of Community Learning and the commitment to Family Learning.

“The final response to the recommendations gives me great optimism. We have been saying for some time that there needs to be a more concerted cross-Government (and cross-party) approach to address the longstanding and persistent literacy and numeracy skills of the nation. It is therefore very encouraging to see the acknowledgement for developing a cross-Government strategy for raising adult literacy and numeracy levels. I would like to see a new strategy led by BIS and supported by DfE, DWP, DCLG and DoH. This should be a simple and early action for the next Government to take which could help galvanise and co-ordinate actions and resources as well as bring together the support which does exist to make for a more efficient and effective offer to adults.

“A new strategy for the next Government is a simple and deliverable commitment which I hope all of the parties in the next election can sign up to.”