Doubtful on the wisdom of a shift to 'functional' skills

23rd April 2010 at 01:00

A number of recent developments should worry anyone concerned with the education and training of adults with low levels of accredited skills.

Many teachers and managers are sceptical of the move to Functional Skills: teachers can see that it doesn't meet the needs of many of their learners; managers can see that it costs more and that there will be major continuing professional development issues; and everyone fears that success rates will fall dramatically.

Meanwhile, a high proportion of those described as Neets have basic skills needs. Research shows that many older people have some literacy or numeracy skills gaps, and we know that offenders with the poorest skills are most likely to re-offend.

All this comes at a time when the overall funding for basic skills is under pressure. The funding "uplift" for literacy has been removed, and there is currently insufficient capacity for numeracy teaching to have even a hope of meeting the 2020 targets. A new administration will certainly have its work cut out.

Carol Taylor, Director of Operations, Niace.

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