Responding to the BIS Committee report on adult literacy and numeracy Dereth Wood, Director of Learning, Strategy and Policy at learndirect, said:
“Yet again we have a report on adult literacy and numeracy which makes sobering reading. Politicians make the point something needs to be done urgently so the UK can keep pace with its international competitors and also help people improve their job prospects. On the whole we welcome the report and the recommendations being made. We particularly endorse the point made about the preoccupation with GCSEs. We fully support developments to make the GCSE curriculum more functional, however, as a company which helps around 100,000 people a year gain skills and qualifications in maths and English and another 20,000 through Apprenticeships, we still think the focus on GCSEs being the only measurement of success at level two is far too narrow.
“Young people and adults, including those taking Apprenticeships in vocational sectors such as hairdressing, business administration or retail, do not always need to be able to do trigonometry or algebra. Yes, they should be competent to understand everyday maths but this can be assessed through the current functional skills tests. Making people sit GCSEs, again and again, to try to hit some arbitrary goal could be very demotivating and put them off even trying. Much better to give them goals they can reach alongside the skills and knowledge they need.
“The other element completely missing from the report is the role technology can play. Bite-size learning delivered in motivating and engaging ways is a proven route to getting adults back into learning and building their confidence. In eleven years learndirect has helped more than 4.5 million people in this way: enabling them to change their lives and improve their employment prospects. We are disappointed the committee didn’t take the opportunity to build on the recommendations from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group which are now being implemented: to support the delivery of online learning approaches for teachers and learners, allowing the learning material and approach to be the ‘additional teacher in the room’; and to promote the take up of technology based learning which encourages confidence, motivation, personalisation and achievement.”