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Skills for Life scrutinised

It is encouraging to see that Niace is undertaking an inquiry into the impact of Skills for Life ("We can't go around with people who can't read or write", September 3).

Although Skills for Life was intended to be a strategy to deal with our longstanding adult functional illiteracy and innumeracy problem, it has actually had a rather different focus: those adults who lack level 2 literacy or numeracy skills. So the target audience has been the four in five adults assessed as missing that government benchmark - not those adults who actually have poor reading, writing and number skills. So instead of targetting a realistic five to seven million adults, it has targetted 26 million.

Skills for Life has helped some adults get a qualification. What is less clear is whether it has reduced the number of functionally illiterate and innumerate adults, the very people that Lord Boswell's wife taught in her literacy classes.

Alan Wells, former director of The Basic Skills Agency and specialist adviser to the Moser Committee.

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