Organised by Learning and Work Institute, UCL Institute of Education, UCU, RaPAL and NATECLA: a joint conference on supporting adults with English, maths and ESOL.
Adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL practitioners are well aware of the difference learning can make to people’s lives. Participants in last year’s conference will recall the vivid learner testimonies collected in the RaPAL publication Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning, launched on the day.
Published at around the same time, UNESCO’s third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALEIII) explores the impact of adult learning in three principal domains: health and wellbeing, employment and the labour market, and social, civic and community life. For practitioners working in adult learning, it may appear self-evident that language, literacy and numeracy learning has much to contribute in bringing about positive changes in all three domains. Yet it can often be a challenge to provide evidence of impact, both for the decision makers who determine what to prioritise, and for learners, who rightly want to know what they stand to gain from their commitment of time, effort – and sometimes money – to learn.
Evidence of impact needs to be provided in ways that are robust, but also in ways which capture the multiple and varied impacts of improved literacy, numeracy and language. For many years, the dominant measure of ‘success’ in adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL provision has been the achievement of qualifications. This measure still dominates the funding of provision, yet captures little of its diverse impacts. Recently, more sophisticated approaches have started to gain ground. The use of matched data sets now allows the impact of different kinds of learning on employment and earnings to be more accurately identified. In some contexts, there is growing interest in using ‘social metrics’ to capture improvements in health and well-being arising from participation in learning, alongside more traditional outcome measures.
So this year’s conference addresses two interlinked themes. As ever, we aim to showcase innovation in adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL practice, in response to familiar challenges and new developments. At a time of declining participation rates in basic skills learning, new policy announcements such as digital as a ‘third basic skill’, and ongoing reform of Functional Skills qualifications, it is vital to share examples of innovative and effective practices. At the same time, we wish to promote and share innovation in how we strengthen the evidence base of the difference that language, literacy and numeracy learning makes – its impact on individuals, communities and the wider economy
Participants will benefit from:
Increased understanding of the policy context in relation to adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL, and the opportunity to engage with policymakers and key national stakeholders
Insights from recent research into adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL
Shared practice, resources and ideas from new and innovative projects in adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL
The opportunity to reflect on their own practice in adult literacy, numeracy and/or ESOL, and network with others in the field