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Ministers add pound;20m to basic skills pot

FAMILY literacy and numeracy will be at the heart of a new pound;20.25 million package announced this week by David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary.

At the same time - during Adult Learners' Week - a new draft national curriculum for basic skills was published for consultation by the Basic Skills Agency.

Mr Blunkett said: "The message today is: "It is never too late to learn. We aim to help 500,000 people a year improve their basic skills by 2002.

"This underlines our commitment to tackling the needs of the one in five adults who has poor literacy and numeracy."

He added that he was acutely aware that one in four people could not check change in a shop and one in six had no qualifications at all.

He had heard of one person who had needed a calculator to decide on the change given for a 49p purchase, when a 50p coin was offered.

Mr Blunkett said new research, to be published soon, showed that adults who improved their basic skills could substantially improve their earnings and job prospects. One third of those with poor basic skills were on benefit.

Of the new money for basic skills, pound;10m is for family literacy and numeracy. As well as the extra funds the department will also be launching a booklet called Your Family Counts.

The new basic skills curriculum is a key element in helping the seven million adults who have difficulty in reading and writing.

I sets out the range of skills and capabilities that adults are expected to have to function as full members of society, said the Basic Skills Agency.

For example, an adult should be able to calculate the cost of two first-class stamps and the change from pound;1; understand if you work for three hours at pound;4 per hour, how much you earn; highlight the main points in a homeschool leaflet; use a swimming pool brochure to find the time for swimming pool classes; and write a letter to school about bullying policy.

The Helena Kennedy bursary scheme, which helps adults and further education students progress to university, has now raised more than pound;100,000. It has launched an appeal to raise pound;250,000.

This year there were 120 applications for 12 bursaries. See for more details.

Nine more colleges have received accredited status. To gain accreditation colleges must provide education of the highest standards and share their good practice with others. They, like the 19 which are already accreddited, will receive a one-off payment of pound;50,000.

The nine newly-acreddited colleges are: Bishop Auckland, Durham; Christ the King Sixth Form, Lewisham, south London; College of Richard Collyer, Horsham, West Sussex; Hugh Baird, Bootle, Merseyside; King George V, Southport; Lewes Tertiary, East Sussex; Loreto, Manchester; Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form, Durham; and Sparsholt, Winchester.

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