New pilots to tackle Britain’s life skills shortfalls

23 October 2015

Thirteen Citizens’ Curriculum pilots testing new ways of improving people’s key life skills have launched today. Britain has 5 million adults who lack functional literacy and numeracy, and 11 million without basic digital skills. This holds back social inclusion, individual opportunity and economic prosperity. 


Current approaches, based primarily on qualifications, have not supported people in the best way possible. NIACE’s Citizens’ Curriculum developed to tackle this, is a programme of study approach that provides support tailored to the needs of individuals, in ways co-designed by them. 


During the first phase, more than 160 learners participated, in settings from prisons, to homelessness services and Local Authorities, of whom:

  • 87% experienced an increase in their self-esteem
  • 59% felt more positive about numeracy
  • 48% felt more positive about literacy
  • 92% felt more motivated to progress to other learning
  • 53% felt more motivated to look for work

Today sees the launch of phase two pilots, which have either returned to build on the work they did last year, or are new pilots testing the approach in different contexts and with other groups of learners. There are thirteen phase two pilots: City of London Corporation, Derby Adult Learning Service, English for Action, Learn Devon, learndirect, Leicester College, Manchester College, Nottinghamshire County Council, Rochdale borough Council, Royal British Legion Industries, St Mungo’s Broadway, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral and Workplace Learning Advocates.

Stephen Evans, NIACE Deputy Chief Executive said:


“With the Spending Review just one month away, and cities arguing for skills funding to be devolved, these pilots will provide vital evidence to ensure all Britain’s citizens have the key capabilities they need for life and work. It is not acceptable in the 21st century for 5 million adults to lack the literacy and numeracy skills they need. This holds back our national prosperity, means businesses can’t find the skills they need, and limits opportunities for individuals. 


“The Citizens’ Curriculum provides a new way for people to learn the skills they need, putting them in charge of their learning. The first phase pilots were a resounding success, with people feeling more confident and engaged, and many going on to further learning. These new pilots will take things further by testing different approaches in different settings, providing a foundation stone of evidence for delivering our future skills base.”

Dermot Bryers, Chief Executive at English for Action, said:


“We are delighted to be involved in phase two of the Citizens’ Curriculum. We learned so much about our practice during phase one and had fantastic opportunities to share this learning with a wide audience. This time around we hope to learn more about embedding digital and financial capabilities into our ESOL courses and we will strive to have a positive impact on adult education policy by working with NIACE and other education providers across the country.”

Sharon Corbett, Service Specialist (Skills and Employability) at learndirect, said:


“As the UK’s largest provider of skills, training and employment services, learndirect has helped millions of people gain the skills they need for work.  Our experience tells us that learners make the best improvements when learning is directly related to their aspirations and requirements.  The Citizens’ Curriculum reflects this and, we believe, has the potential to make a significant positive impact on people’s lives. By taking part in the pilot we hope to help demonstrate to government the importance of this type of provision.”