Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

IMPROVING ADULT BASIC SKILLS 'ADDRESSES A GENERATION OF NEGLECT'

  • Comment
The first definitive national profile of adult literacy and numeracy ...
The first definitive national profile of adult literacy and numeracy

skills published today by the Department for Education and Skills

demonstrates the need for the government to continue its sustained

drive to improve adult basic skills training and school standards,

particularly in maths.

Conducted as part of the overnment's 'Skills for Life' programme to

improve the literacy and numeracy skills of 1.5 million adults by

2007, the National Needs and Impact Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and

ICT Skills assesses working adults' basic literacy and numeracy

skills and shows for the first time the direct impact they have on

attainment and employment prospects.

The survey demonstrates early success in the government's drive to

increase the numbers of adults with basic skills in literacy and

numeracy. The proportion of adults aged 16-65 that have literacy

skills below the 'Skills for Life' baseline - Level 1 (a D-G grade

GCSE) - has fallen from the 7 million estimated in 1997 to 5.2

million adults now. And those that have numeracy skills below the

'Skills for Life' baseline - Entry Level 3 (the standard expected of

9-11 year olds) - has fallen slightly from the 7 million estimated in

1997 to 6.8 million adults now.

However, the survey also highlights past decades of neglect in basic

skills education, revealing that 15 million adults overall lack the

numeracy skills expected at a lower grade GCSE.

The survey underlines the need for the government to continue its

successful 'Skills for Life' programme, which has already seen over

1.8 million adults start basic skills courses. It also emphasises the

significance of delivering the new skills strategy entitlement to

free tuition for all those who never achieved a qualification -

vocational or academic - equivalent to 5 good GCSEs or an NVQ Level 2.

And while respondents to the survey will not have benefited from

recent improvements made by the introduction o f literacy and numeracy

strategies in primary schools or in maths attainment at secondary

level, it underscores the importance of continuing to drive up school

standards so that more young people are properly equipped to meet the

challenge of the global economy.

The survey covered 8,730 respondents aged 16-65 years old. Key

findings include:

- 1.7 million (5%) of adults aged 16-65 have literacy skills below

Entry Level 3 (the standard expected of 11 year olds), and 5.2

million (16%) below Level 1 (less than a D-G GCSE);

- 6.8 million (21%) of adults aged 16-65 have numeracy skills below

Entry Level 3, and 15 million (47%) below Level 1;

- men and women have similar levels of literacy, but men appear to

have higher levels of numeracy, with one in three or 32% of men

achieving Level 2 (an A*-C GCSE) or above, compared to one in five

or 19% of women;

- many respondents had a high level of awareness of, and practical

skills in ICT applications and terminology, with 50% achieving

Level 2 or above in an awareness assessment, and 47% achieving

Level 1 or above in a practical skills assessment;

- lower levels of literacy and numeracy were associated with

socio-economic deprivation, with adults in more deprived areas

tending to perform at a lower level than those in less deprived

areas;

- good literacy and numeracy skills tended to be associated with good

wages with 68% of full-time workers with Level 2 or above in

numeracy skills earning more than £20,000 a year before tax;

- parents with lower literacy and numeracy skills were less confident

in helping their children with reading, writing and maths.

Publishing the survey, minister for skills and vocational education, Ivan Lewis said: 'I am determined to ensure that today's young people will no longer

endure the decades of neglect in literacy and numeracy education

which is reflected so starkly in this survey. Our recruitment of 50%

more maths teachers in just four years and dedicated literacy and

numeracy strategies in primary schools are already delivering

significant improvements in maths attainment at secondary level.

'And our 'Skills for Life' programme is now giving adults the chance

to get the basic skills they need to get on and succeed. In its first

two years, over 1.8 million adults have started basic skills courses,

and 470,000 have achieved key qualifications. We are confident of

reaching our target to enable 750,000 adults to achieve a basic

skills qualification by the end of 2004, and increase this to 1.5

million adults by 2007.'

'Skills for Life' is just one of the measures under the government's

sustained drive to improve the nation's skills in literacy and

numeracy, others include:

- the Skills Strategy, published in July, includes entitlement to

free tuition for all those who never achieved a qualification -

vocational or academic - equivalent to 5 good GCSEs or an NVQ Level

2. And a new Adult Learning Grant will offer £30 per week to those

aged 19-30 who are studying full time for their first full

qualification at level 2 or level 3;

- Literacy and Numeracy Strategies in primary schools which have led

to 73% of 11 year olds achieving the expected level in maths in

2003 - a 14% increase since 1998;

- the post-14 maths inquiry set up to look at boosting the supply of

people with science, technology, engineering and mathematical

skills which will give a series of recommendations to government

later next month;

- the establishment of a National Centre for Excellence in

Mathematics Teaching - to tackle the poor uptake of young people

going into higher level maths;

- the establishment of 77 maths and computing colleges under the

specialist schools programme to work with other local schools and

the wider community to raise standards in numeracy;

- action to boost maths teaching and encourage more graduates to

become maths teachers, with recruits to maths teaching rising by

50% from 1998 to 2002.

NOTES

1. The National Needs and Impact Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and ICT

Skills is available here. The survey is based on interviews and skills assessments with 8,730 people, aged

16-65 years old, in England. The skills assessments are designed to

measure the skills of the population against the National Standards

and Core Curricula for adult literacy and numeracy.

2. Previous estimates of the level of adult basic skills were

published by Sir Claus Moser's working group on post-school basic

skills in its report 'A Fresh Start' in 1997. Deriving figures from

the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the National Child

Development Study (NCDS), the report concluded that 7 million people

in England had literacy skills below Level 1. For numeracy, less good

data were available, and it was estimated that at least 7 million

people lacked good numeracy skills, based on the number of people

thought to be below Entry Level 3.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.