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Project summary and aims

In this project, together with three European partners, Lewisham College is researching best practice in Numeracy, Literacy and Language (i.e. UK: ESOL; Italy: Italian to speakers of other languages) teacher training. The partnership is also exchanging and developing guidelines for best practice and training materials.

  • Lewisham College, London, UK
  • University of Rostock, Germany
  • Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic
  • IAL FVG, Italy

The University of Rostock provides the pedagogical expertise for literacy and the University of Brno provides the expertise in the training of mathematics teachers. IAL FVG and Lewisham College both have extensive experience in the teaching of asylum seekers and refugees and in delivering basic curricula.

The starting point for this project is provided by the new basic skills teacher training courses and certificates, delivered by Lewisham College. The project aims to develop materials to support these new qualifications.

Having investigated current practice in the teaching of basic skills in their own countries, the partners are formulating guidelines for best practice in basic skills teacher training. They are also producing materials to train basic skills teachers. The main output of the project is an international conference.

The aims of the Training Basic Skills Teachers project are:

  • To develop and share, on a European scale, student-centred and innovative good practice in the training of new and serving basic skills teachers
  • To support the good practice established with pedagogical investigation of its effectiveness.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To define the elements of basic skills on a European scale amongst partners
  • To research current practice on basic skills teaching in partners' countries and to agree on best practice
  • To research the effectiveness of the good practice identified
  • To identify and develop guidelines and curricula for good practice in basic skills teacher training
  • To adapt existing training materials or to write new materials according to the guidelines developed
  • To trial the materials produced, evaluate and, if necessary, adapt them
  • To publish a set of teacher training materials
  • To disseminate the results of the project in various ways, but in particular by an international conference.

The UK national strategy for improving adult basic skills

One of the findings from our research in this project has been that it is only the UK, amongst our project partners, which has currently developed specialist teacher training programmes for adult basic skills specialists. In view of this, below is a short note on the background to this situation in the UK.

The Moser Report, a national survey into literacy and numeracy, in 1999 announced that about 7 million adults in England (or 1 in 5 adults) has ‘less literacy than is expected of an 11-year-old child’ (A Fresh Start, 1999). This report resulted in national standards, including curricula, being produced.

Feeding into this national level report were findings from IALS (International Adult Literacy Survey). Referring to this, the National Literacy Trust in March 1998 stated on its website that:

‘A growing body of evidence suggests that Britain has a bigger problem with inadequate skills – among both young people and adults – than any other industrialised country except the USA. A study of the skills gap, the International Adult Literacy Survey, carried out and published by the Office for National Statistics in March 1998, shows Britain to be far behind the four other West European countries in the study – Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.’
Read more: Literacy standards in the developed world - adults

Teaching in adult literacy, numeracy and the host language does occur in Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy, but, it would seem, on a more ad hoc basis. This used to be the situation also in the UK, but due to the national urgency given to the issue, provision has developed, both for teaching and for teacher training

Up until recently, most adult basic skills teaching in the UK has relied strongly on a voluntary workforce. It is now a government requirement that all new teachers, employed since 2000/2001, either have, or be working towards, a full teaching qualification (which is at Level 4, stage 3 on the national qualifications framework). In addition, all adult basic skills teachers must possess a subject specialist qualification at degree level or equivalent (this is also at Level 4). These government requirements have had a huge impact on members of the basic skills workforce, who are now required to work towards becoming fully qualified teachers and subject specialists. This has led to the development of subject specialist courses in literacy and numeracy, and an integrated ESOL course. Due to the varied backgrounds in both qualifications and experience of the workforce, a variety of routes are available.

For further information, please go to Lewisham - Survey.

Useful links:

To help explain the context, there is a glossary of terms available here

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Traning Basic Skills Teachers - A Comenius 2.1 Project