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Skills initiative is gaining ground

Adult Basic Skills is a success story and that is why I was sorry to see the negative reporting in last week's TES based upon a loaded survey ("Action needed on tutor training", May 14).

The survey relied on returns from fewer than 90 learning providers in England. No questions were posed about learner achievement or targets. It is nonsense to link this negative survey with the Government's target to provide more adults with basic skills training.

I accept that there are some staff shortages in specific areas of the country, but we are addressing these through investment in staff development.

Last year alone the Learning and Skills Council trained 6,252 teachers and 1,310 leaders and managers. In the past three years, through our Skills for Life programme, more than two million learners have taken up learning opportunities and we are well on schedule to provide 750,000 adults with a basic skills qualification by autumn 2004.

The Government is investing heavily to raise the skills of leaders, managers and teachers in the sector. During the past four years there has been a move away from short-term to permanent contracts and we are upgrading the workforce.

The resources are there and organisations must keep the momentum going by ensuring that key staff have the opportunity to access the training and qualifications now available.

Ivan Lewis

Adult skills minister

Editor's comment: the survey did not rely on fewer than 90 returns. A further 100 were contacted, giving a very consistent pattern of replies.

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