Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020: Strategic guidance

Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020: Strategic guidance


Outcome 1: Scotland's adults have access to literacies learning opportunities in which they can achieve their goals and progress

Adult literacies learners are not a homogenous group. They have a range of existing literacies capabilities and often complex needs. They are likely to have different personal circumstances and be motivated by different aspirations and pressures.

Continued diversity in learning programmes (including starter or bite-size courses, dedicated literacies learning or embedding the literacies within other types of learning, or within other community engagement work such as youth work) will help to meet the needs of Scotland's adult literacies learners, whether living in an urban or rural setting.

To reach the full range of learners, many of whom will not have engaged in any form of learning for a number of years, we must remove any barriers and stigma attached to literacies learning and continue to offer a variety of flexible and accessible learning opportunities. If we are to reach the most marginalised, providers need to identify those places/services which are visited/used by those who may need literacies support and wherever possible, provide the support there - in addition to existing learning settings such as workplaces, colleges, community learning centres and prisons. Positive and wide-reaching marketing is required locally and nationally to continue to raise awareness, reduce stigma and motivate adults to engage in literacies learning. Encouraging adults who have been through the learning process to become champions and advocates of literacies learning can deliver a powerful message.

We cannot underestimate the importance of pre-learning engagement for prospective learners and the time needed to develop relationships. Voluntary/third sector organisations, community-based learning providers, unions, employers and colleges can, through innovative and diverse outreach activities, reach new and sometimes hesitant learners.

No-one should be uncertain about where to guide learners. Local and national guidance networks need to be proactive in keeping information current and accessible. Ease of access to the right kind of learning is especially important at transition points in learners' lives, such as leaving school, re-entering the community after being in prison, returning to work, and dealing with new tasks following the death of partner, becoming a parent or migrating from another country.

Some employers do recognise the benefits of staff improving their literacies: others still have a long way to go. Strong literacy and numeracy skills are often fundamental to employees progressing at work and taking on new responsibilities, and can be essential for sustaining employment. Therefore, it is important that employers and employer organisations continue to demonstrate the benefits of supporting workers to develop their literacies capabilities. They should work in partnership with their staff and learning providers to identify literacies needs and to provide learning opportunities in workplaces or other appropriate settings.

For literacies learning to have maximum impact, it needs to be regular and come in sizeable chunks of time. In 2009, US research 26 found that adult learners require at least 100 hours of instruction to progress the equivalent of one US grade level. While we cannot directly correlate US grades with Scottish qualification levels, these findings do demonstrate the link between more regular and sustained study and progression. Regular and more frequent learning (i.e. more than a few hours, once a week) will help learners to sustain new skills, knowledge and understanding and progress more quickly. To increase learning time, learners could undertake a mix of learning including face-to-face contact with their tutor, or online tutor contact, as well as learning on their own, wherever appropriate.

Of course, learning should always be negotiated between the learner and tutor, taking learners' lives and other factors, such as mental health, work and caring commitments, into consideration. Our work should always be firmly rooted in the social practice model. This can often mean that learners move in and out of programmes intermittently as their priorities and circumstances change. Practitioners, where possible, should continue to engage with absent learners to encourage their return to learning when circumstances permit.



1.1. Learning opportunities are accessible and inclusive

1.1.1 Increase effort to identify those places/services which are visited/used by those who may need literacies support and, where possible, provide the support there

1.1.2 Engage and develop good relationships with those furthest from learning through pre-learning engagement opportunities and working with intermediary/referral organisations

1.1.3 Provide targeted, flexible and collaborative support services to minimise barriers to learning

1.2 Learners access appropriate provision relevant to their needs

1.2.1 Provide learners with appropriate information about, and signposting to, the range of available literacies learning opportunities

1.2.2 Build practitioners' skills to better identify and respond to individual learner needs

1.2.3 Promote and provide access to resources and tools for identifying and measuring learner skills and learning needs, including specific learning difficulties

1.2.4 Provide other adult educators with training to ensure they are able to identify, support and refer adults with literacies needs

1.3 Learning opportunities are sufficiently flexible, regular and accessible to encourage persistence and progression

1.3.1 Encourage learners to undertake a minimum of 6 hours learning activity per week wherever possible, that reflects their needs, goals and circumstances. This is not only face-to-face tuition, but also can be a mixture of tutor led, online and self-directed learning

1.3.2 Encourage practitioners to support learners to plan their own learning, develop a personalised learning plan, identifying specific needs and goals

1.3.3 Enhance the range of blended, distance and intensive learning opportunities for learners

1.3.4 Follow up absent learners to encourage return and continuation of learning, where appropriate

1.4 Learners become more autonomous and informed about how to progress into further learning, volunteering or employment

1.4.1 Encourage and support learners to reflect on their learning and plan effectively for progression

1.4.2 Ensure learners are able to access up-to-date educational, employment and volunteering information, advice and guidance

1.5 Promotion of literacies provision is positive at national and local levels

1.5.1 Produce and implement local promotional plans to increase learner engagement and reduce stigma

1.5.2 Broaden efforts to support learners to become literacies champions/advocates

1.5.3 Broaden efforts to support staff such as Trade Union Learning Representatives, training staff and volunteers to become literacies champions/advocates

1.5.4 Review the impact of national awareness raising work to:

i) inform the next stages of a national campaign

ii) ensure that promotion is appropriate to local provision available, to ensure timeous response to learners, and

iii) include collaboration with information advice and guidance providers

1.5.5 Raise awareness of the benefits of literacies learning and further develop referral pathways with potential referral organisations

1.5.6 Work together to promote and celebrate learner achievement at both local and national level

1.6 Literacies learning increases learners' chances of obtaining employment or becoming a volunteer

1.6.1 Include review of literacies learning activity within relevant government and other organisations' policy and practice reviews

1.6.2 Increase employers' and employer organisations' awareness of the benefits of literacies learning in the workplace

1.6.3 Ensure integration of literacies within local employability partnerships

1.6.4 Promote the use of Individual Learning Accounts ( ILAs) - and other funding - to encourage literacies participation within the workplace

1.6.5 Increase the awareness of voluntary organisations, both nationally and locally, to the benefits of literacies within the volunteering role

Outcome 2: Adult literacies learners receive high quality learning and teaching so they can achieve their goals

All learners must be entitled to high quality and effective learning programmes. How learners are taught, what they learn, how the learning is assessed and what it leads to are important aspects in a successful learning journey.

E-learning (using a range of technologies including computer-based learning, web-based learning and virtual tuition) can help learners progress more quickly in their learning and extend the scope of learning. Learning can be customised to meet the needs of individuals in terms of time, place and pace. Many learners may also need support to develop their IT skills in order to successfully access these modes of learning.

Adult literacies practitioners are first and foremost facilitators of learning, applying learning and teaching approaches which place the learner at the centre of the learning process, and which go beyond a concentration on educational processes only. They require multiple skills, not only in learning and teaching but also in advice, guidance and assessment.

If Scotland is to have a skilled, competent and qualified adult literacies teaching workforce, practitioners must continually develop their skills and knowledge; and employers of literacies workers should encourage and enable their staff to undertake appropriate professional development opportunities and qualifications.

There need to be clearer development pathways for literacies professionals, from volunteers undertaking the Professional Development Award ( PDA): Introduction to Tutoring Adult Literacies Learning, to tutors who engage with employers undertaking the PDA: Developing Literacies Learning Programmes for the Workplace, through to experienced practitioners undertaking the Teaching Qualification: Adult Literacies. Adult literacies teaching should be regarded as a positive career choice.

We should also recognise the important contribution of other practitioners such as youth workers, family learner workers and college lecturers in improving literacies capabilities of adults. They too should have the opportunity, and be encouraged, to develop their understanding of, and skills in, supporting adults with literacies needs.



2.1 Learners have clear entitlements to learning

2.1.1 Ensure learning environments are 'fit-for-purpose' for adults, and are accessible and appropriate for learners' needs

2.1.2 Ensure learners have access to high quality resources including e-learning technology

2.1.3 Ensure learners with specific learning difficulties or disabilities have access to appropriate high quality assistive technology

2.1.4 Ensure each learner is able to engage in learning activities at a level, mode and pace appropriate to his/her needs, goals and aspirations

2.1.5 Provide opportunities for learners to gain formal recognition of their achievements in learning

2.2 Practitioners are confident and skilled at teaching literacies to adults, and other staff are skilled at coordinating and developing literacies programmes

2.2.1 Support practitioners to continue to develop their professional skills in teaching adult literacies

2.2.2 Support practitioners to continue to develop, enhance and extend the skills required to deliver flexible, embedded, integrated and dedicated literacies learning, including distance and technology-based learning opportunities

2.2.3 Apply effective learning and teaching methods, using the social practice approach

2.2.4 Embed the principles of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Curriculum Framework and Curriculum for Excellence within literacies learning and teaching and practitioner training programmes

2.2.5 Ensure practitioners are skilled in accrediting learning, or in supporting learners to seek accreditation, when appropriate for the learner

2.2.6 Reflect and evaluate teaching practice and learner engagement processes

2.2.7 Encourage and enable employers of literacies workers to promote and embed adult literacies professional development opportunities within staff training programmes

2.2.8 Support managers/coordinators to advance their skills in coordinating and developing successful literacies programmes

2.2.9 Establish a short-life, cross-sectoral professional development working group, including representation from the business, public and third sectors, to identify and respond to the professional development needs of the adult literacies workforce across sectors

2.2.10 Promote and extend the sharing of practice and knowledge between practitioners, managers and sectors

2.2.11 Promote and increase practitioner-led action research and peer evaluation processes to extend skills, broaden knowledge and improve practice across sectors

2.2.12 Continue to develop the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Curriculum Framework to reflect changing policy and practice

Outcome 3: Scotland has a coherent and effective adult literacies infrastructure that enables and supports continuous enhancement of provision

Achieving a joined-up and effective adult literacies infrastructure will require national and local leadership and co-ordination. This means better communication and coordination at both national and local levels.

At national level, the Scottish Government must continue to connect literacies policy with other economic and social priorities.

National stakeholders should remain committed to this agenda and continue to recognise its importance to Scotland's future success.

Local partnerships should work together to co-ordinate services and maximise the sharing of resources. They should particularly address the needs of adult literacies learners at key transition periods of their lives, including learning transitions such as moving from school to college or work; from community based learning into college and university, and other life transitions such as becoming a parent, having to deal with new tasks after the death of a partner, retraining after redundancy or re-entering the community after leaving prison.

Partnerships should establish processes to ensure learning opportunities are evaluated for quality and assessed for equality impact.

To ensure learners receive sufficient literacies support to advance at work and/or gain and sustain employment, local partnerships should include literacies programmes for and within the workplace. To facilitate this, local employers, employment organisations and employee representative organisations should be an integral part of the local literacies planning process.

The involvement of learners to improve the learning infrastructure can be hugely beneficial. This can mean involving learners in planning and development, by supporting them to act as partners and advocates with policy makers, providers, practitioners and other agencies. Learners' views, needs and concerns, can also help ensure that organisations respond appropriately to the issues raised.



3.1 National leadership and coordination is effective

3.1.1 Establish a national adult literacies strategic coordination group to drive collaboration and maximise resources within and across all sectors

3.1.2 Ensure effective communication and collaboration between relevant Scottish Government and COSLA policy areas to address adult literacies in Scotland

3.1.3 Strengthen productive relationships and effective communication between national agencies, and between national agencies and delivery partners

3.1.4 Ensure effective two-way communication between national leadership and local action

3.1.5 Support adult literacies practitioners across Scotland to have a voice in national policy and practice developments

3.1.6 Encourage and enable learners to influence national strategic developments

3.2 Local partnerships are strong and productive

3.2.1 Increase the effectiveness of local strategic and delivery partnerships to better evaluate, plan, coordinate and improve literacies services

3.2.2 Employ approaches which maximise the use of resources (within community planning areas, and within and across local authority areas)

3.2.3 Encourage partnerships to explore how they can engage with the most excluded and ensure compliance with equalities legislation

3.2.4 Improve communication and collaboration between businesses, trade unions and literacies learning providers

3.2.5 Involve learners in planning and improving local literacies services

3.2.6 Increase communication and collaboration between local partnerships and:

a) offender services
b) schools and youth services
c) information, advice and guidance providers
d) the health service
e) employment and employability agencies
f) intermediary/referral organisations
g) individuals who are already in contact with adults who may benefit from literacies support

Outcome 4: There is evidence of the impacts and the value of literacies learning for individuals and society

If adult literacies providers and partnerships, as well as policymakers, are to predict and respond effectively to demand and challenges, we need to have better focused and more frequent analyses of learner progress, both locally and nationally.

We must pursue a coherent data and accountability framework for adult literacies programmes delivered in colleges, adult learning services in local authorities, workplaces, justice and voluntary sector settings. We must have robust evaluation processes in place so that we can continually improve the quality of Scotland's adult literacies programmes. We must demonstrate the impacts and outcomes that literacies can make on individuals' lives, their families, their communities and the economy and be able to make improvements to services as a result of this knowledge. Also, it is important that policy makers, providers and employers recognise the value of literacies development for individuals and the country as a whole.

We must continue to expand our knowledge of effective literacies practice and investigate issues through undertaking research (such as recent Scottish Government-funded research in undetected visual problems in adults with literacy difficulties 27 and practitioner led action research such as the individual learning planning ( ILP) process 28), as well as learning from research from other countries.

We must continue to evaluate our work by using a range of tools such as HMIE's: How Good is our Community Learning and Development 229, Community Learning and Development Managers Scotland's Let's Prove It30 and Edinburgh City Council's Literacies in the Community31.



4.1. The impact and value of local literacies learning is demonstrated at local and national level

4.1.1 Establish systems, involving practitioners and learners, for capturing and measuring learner achievement and progression, for both local and national purposes

4.1.2 Build upon and share established systems to capture and record the impacts and the value of adult literacies learning across all areas of life - private, family, community and work

4.1.3 Ensure effective collation and reporting of expected outcomes and impacts of literacies development to inform future planning

4.2 Evaluation of provision contributes to continuous enhancement of adult literacies services

4.2.1 Use appropriate systems to evaluate the quality of adult literacies services

4.2.2 Use evidence to identify challenges and improvements to services

4.3 Research informs developments in policy and practice

4.3.1 Demonstrate how social and economic goals are reached through developing the literacies capabilities of Scotland's adults, particularly making better use of existing evidence and knowledge, and undertaking new research where appropriate

4.3.2 Improve ways of communicating the value of literacies development to policy makers, providers and employers.

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