Institute for Learning
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Professional teachers and trainers are key to improving literacy

The Institute for Learning (IfL) has endorsed the recommendations outlined in the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education’s report of its inquiry into adult literacy in England, Work, Society and Lifelong Literacy.

Toni Fazaeli, IfL’s chief executive, said, “Although much progress has been made in recent years, thanks in great part to the hard work and dedication of teachers, it is unacceptable that more than five million adults in England do not have the literacy skills to enable them to function effectively in modern society. IfL endorses the inquiry’s recommendations and welcomes its focus on a highly trained and qualified teaching workforce as a priority, and on the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) for all teachers and trainers, to improve the quality of provision and learning experiences.

“Respondents to the inquiry suggested that trained, enthusiastic and skilled teachers were essential, and cited the effectiveness of contextualised materials, embedded approaches and embracing information and communication technologies (ICT). The recommendation that CPD opportunities should include the use of blended approaches and digital learning and resources accords with the findings of IfL’s 2009 member survey, which found that although some members were using social networking, podcasts, webcasts, blogs and wikis for their professional development and to support teaching and learning, around a third of respondents felt they were not confident in using new technologies.

“IfL is keen to help ensure that teachers and trainers – including those who work in the voluntary and community sector and in work-based learning – have the support they need for CPD and access to opportunities and ICT equipment. We will also continue to work closely with initial teacher training providers, to help ensure that new teachers are qualified to the appropriate levels. We agree with the report that CPD is vital for all teachers, and that creative and flexible ways of using the curricula, embedding and integrating literacy, and the use of digital learning are important aspects to consider.

“Adult literacy teachers carry out life-changing work, making an enormously positive impact on the lives of their learners – adults of all ages, from varying backgrounds. Strong partnerships across the diverse further education and skills system can help extend access to greater numbers of adult learners, for example, by making effective use of appropriately trained professional teachers to mentor and train volunteers to support adult learners.

“IfL looks forward to continuing our work with members, teacher training providers, sector bodies, employers and unions to help reduce significantly the number of adults in this country whose economic prosperity, well-being and life chances are blighted by poor literacy.”

Niace’s report, Work, Society and Lifelong Literacy and an executive summary are available to download in PDF format at

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