Annual Conference on English, Maths and ESOL

  14/11/2018 09:45   Event ID :11974

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, UCL Institute of Education, UCU, RaPAL and NATECLA: a joint conference on supporting adults with English, maths and ESOL.

The Conference is sponsored by the Education and Training Foundation.

Final programme available in the download section.

The annual conference on English, maths and ESOL is the only sector event dedicated to adult literacy, numeracy and English language policy, practice and research.

The need to tackle poor basic skills has never been greater.  Nine million adults in the UK have low literacy or numeracy.  This is simply not acceptable in a modern society.  Poor basic skills hold back individuals, communities and limit the productivity of our businesses. Yet participation in basic skills is currently falling, with 25% fewer adults in 17/18 taking up courses which develop these essential skills.  As practitioners, providers, researchers and policy-makers, we share a responsibility to drive up participation.

The Government has announced major plans to boost social mobility, create integrated communities, and review post-18 education and funding, to ensure our education system delivers the future skills the economy needs after exiting the European Union.  These initiatives risk failure without sufficient investment and a sustained strategy to address poor basic skills, and boost participation in literacy, numeracy and ESOL learning.

At the same time, technical reforms to English and maths qualifications, adult education budget devolution and the basic digital skills entitlement all provide opportunities to innovate and to do things differently. This conference exists to share insights from policy, research and practice, helping participants to make the most of these opportunities and develop new ways of working to overcome the current challenges.


At the conference, we ask – and hopefully help answer – some of the big questions:

  • How can we encourage and support more adults – especially those who could benefit most – to take up literacy, numeracy and ESOL learning?
  • What difference will adult education budget devolution make to the way literacy, numeracy and ESOL courses are provided?
  • How do – or how should – basic digital skills relate to adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL?

We aim to share learning from the latest in adult basic skills research, projects and practice. Most importantly, we hope to inspire, with some of the incredible stories of transformation from 2018’s Festival of Learning award winners.

The conference partners hope you will enjoy the event, and benefit from:

  • Increased understanding of the policy context in relation to adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL, and the opportunity to engage with policymakers and key national stakeholders.
  • Insights from recent research into adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL.
  • Shared practice, resources and ideas from new and innovative projects in adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL.
  • The opportunity to reflect on your own practice in adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL, and network with others in the field.


Final programme available in the download section.

Confirmed plenary speakers

  • Clare MacDonald, Deputy Director – Careers and Basic Skills, Department for Education
  • Dr Sue Pember OBE, Director of Policy and External Relations, HOLEX
  • Dr Sam Duncan, Senior Lecturer in Adult Education and Literacies, UCL Institute of Education
  • Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute

Confirmed contributors to the Adult Education Budget Devolution panel

  • Forogh Rahmani, Senior Manager – Strategy, Policy and Relationships, Skills and Employment Unit, Greater London Authority
  • Paul Amann, Principal Officer, Employment and Skills, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
  • Lynsi Hayward-Smith, Head of Adult Learning and Skills, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Tim Opitz, Berlin Senate Administration for Education, Youth and Families, Berlin, Germany

Sponsors and supporters