The recent report from David Sherlock, the chief inspector at the Adult Learning Inspectorate, highlighted the need to continue to improve Skills for Life.
People who have achieved the least value from their education in the past should certainly be entitled to the best-quality provision.
While accepting that there is a need to improve quality in some centres, I and my colleagues reject totally that this signals a failure in the work of the Skills for Life unit or its strategy.
We have achieved a great deal in a short time and will strive to continue to do better.
The strategy increased the scope of literacy, language and numeracy provision from the previous focus on the level of an 11-year-old entering secondary education up to that expected of a competent 16-year-old at the end of compulsory education.
In making this change, the Government was realistic about the minimum levels of transferable English and maths skills needed to function well in the workplace, and to benefit from further training and skills development.
The strategy makes it possible to move away from the stigma that has bedevilled basic skills provision, and which prevented it from attracting the most disadvantaged people.
The broader Skills for Life strategy and the Move On project have given us the scope to make "improving your English and maths and gaining a qualification to prove it" an acceptable, positive goal for so many people who would not otherwise have seen education and training as being for them.
We have given them the confidence to progress and take on further challenges, and made learning popular. There have been 592,956 entries for the national tests in adult literacy and numeracy since they were introduced in 2002, with 413,184 passing (to July 2005).
The pass rate has climbed from 61 per cent in summer 2003 to 72 per cent this year. The strategy is also benefiting young people taking key skills qualifications.
Move On development office
347 Cherry Hinton Road