Higher Education Minister, David Willetts MP, yesterday acknowledged a “dramatic fall” in part-time student numbers in England and pledged that the Government will “engage the policy levers” to “do better”, at a parliamentary reception ahead of Adult Learners’ Week (18-24 May).
The proportion of young people aged 17–24 taking part in learning has fallen by 7 percentage points in the last year. There has also been a fall of 6 percentage points in the proportion of unemployed people participating in learning. These are the latest findings of the annual NIACE adult participation in learning survey for 2013, published today ahead of Adult Learners’ Week (18–24 May 2013).
David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:
The Government should maintain current levels of public and private investment in adult learning and commit to raising them towards that of the current OECD average of 1.6% of GDP by 2020 to make the economy stronger and reduce cost pressures on social care, health, benefits and pensions. This is the headline proposal from NIACE to support the economy and the needs of employers, communities and families, ahead of Adult Learners’ Week (18-24 May) and the Spending Review in June.
NIACE has welcomed the government’s response to the Richard Review and in particular its recognition that individuals of all ages can benefit from the opportunity that an Apprenticeship offers to both earn and learn. However, NIACE also believes that there should be more emphasis in the proposals on the role that Apprentices themselves can play in determining the curriculum, the scope, the delivery, the assessment and the improvements in quality.
David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said:
NIACE is asking adult learning providers in England to fill out a short survey to find out more about how English and maths provision is delivered across the sector and the different approaches that are used.
Sue Southwood, Programme Manager at NIACE, said:
"We would like to hear from as many providers as possible so that we can get a full picture of current provision. Responses to this call for information will inform the design of the research and will give providers the opportunity to register their interest in taking part.
An introduction to social value and impact measurement in adult learning and skills one day training workshops will introduce providers to approaches to collecting and reporting evidence of the wider social outcomes of learning in a systematic and appropriate way.
Penny Lamb, Head of Policy Development and NIACE Lead on Impact, said:
NIACE welcomes the focus on skills from the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), supporting the report’s view that skills should be a core priority for LEPs.
NIACE is encouraged that this report highlights that while many LEPs have got the balance right, others need to refocus. It recommends that ‘LEPS be required to demonstrate their levels of engagement with local education, in particular with skills and apprenticeship providers, FE colleges and schools.’
Tom Stannard, Director of Policy and Communications at Blackburn with Darwen Council, has been appointed to the new national role of NIACE Director of Communications and Public Affairs.
Tom joins NIACE from a 15-year track record in UK local government. He is a prominent national figure, recently voted amongst the Local Government Chronicle's most influential in UK Local Government, and holds Board-level advisory roles at the Guardian and SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives).
Learning for a Better World, organised by NIACE, stressed the need for adult educators to make a better case for investment, improve analysis of learner participation and motivation, and develop robust strategies to inspire adults who have benefited least from their initial education to take up learning.
Richard Spear, Director for Wales and Strategic Planning at NIACE, said:
World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. Last night, half a million books – including Andy McNab’s Quick Read, Last Night Another Soldier - were given directly to the hardest to reach potential readers in prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered, supported and social housing and through partner charities working throughout the UK.
A New Curriculum for Difficult Times shows how providers, working in different local contexts, have developed a new curriculum. The work of these projects was based on the assumption that in difficult times the learning and skills curriculum will have to become more locally-shaped and driven.
The report details how:
A research project to quantify the nature and extent of Third Sector involvement and participation in the delivery of learning and skills is moving to the next phase with the publication of its findings.
Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and delivered by a partnership between Skills Third Sector, NIACE, the Third Sector National Learning Alliance (TSNLA), Fairtrain, HOLEX and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), the research set out to examine how the Third Sector can play a full role in learning and skills and in meeting wider government objectives.
Voting has now closed, determining a winning maths app that will receive funding for full development, as part of the Maths4us initiative to boost adult maths skills across England. The winning app will be announced next week.
Leading up to the voting, the Apps4us challenge called for a focus group of learners, tutors and app designers to consider how an app might boost adult numeracy. Their findings informed designs that were pitched to a panel of industry experts, and four of the proposed apps were selected to be developed to the prototype stage.
Susan Easton, NIACE Programme Manager for Digital Learning and one of the panellists, said:
The Adult Learners’ Week (18-24 May) photo competition in now closed and the winners will be notified in the next two weeks.
The Learning through a lens competition aims to reflect the many different types of learning people decide to undertake - from learning for work, family and community, to learning through sports, technology or arts, craft and culture. Photos submitted to the competition could in turn inspire others to give learning a go.
The competition winners will be announced at a reception during Adult Learners' Week, on Friday 24 May, hosted by the Leicester People's Photographic Gallery.
A new study guide to help people pass the new Life in the UK Test has been published by NIACE and is now available to buy online.
Pass the New Life in the UK Test: The Complete Study Guide for 2013 is a fully up-to-date guide which supports people preparing to take the new Life in the United Kingdom citizenship test – introduced on 25 March 2013 - which is required for those who want to become a UK citizen or gain the right to settle in the UK.
The study guide contains:
NIACE and seven other European organisations are developing and delivering training programmes to support socially disadvantaged learners to acquire vital digital skills, as part of a European project funded by the European Commission and coordinated by Stiftung Digitale Chancen.
Digital Literacy 2.0 (DLit2.0) is developing and delivering training programmes for staff in informal and untraditional learning settings - like public libraries, social housing organisations, community and care centres - so they can support and empower socially disadvantaged learners to acquire the vital skills they need to fully participate in the digital society.
NIACE has responded to the Government’s Rigour and Responsiveness in Skills paper, published on Wednesday 3 April. Alastair Thomson, NIACE’s Principal Advocacy Officer, said:
"The publication of this paper is helpful in the run-up to June’s Spending Review as it affirms the importance of public investment in skills as a precondition for economic growth and recovery.
Using e-Books and e-Readers for Adult Learning is a comprehensive guide for learning providers thinking about investing in e-book technologies. The book covers topics like taking advantage of the features e-books offer learners; the options available including e-readers, tablets and smartphones; the costs involved; and technical and management issues. It also includes examples of current uses and experiences in adult learning settings, recent research and projects and innovative uses of e-book technologies.
Sandie Gay, one of the book’s authors and an e-learning and digital technologies consultant and trainer, said:
NIACE is calling for a ‘whole’ system approach to support local learning and skills in its evidence – submitted today - to the Inquiry on Local Growth and the Skills System as called for by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth, LEPs and Enterprise Zones.
Penny Lamb, Head of Policy Development at NIACE, said:
"In light of the Government’s recent response to the Heseltine review, now is the time to consider how to best shape a local learning and skills system to meet the needs of employers, learners and communities.
The argument that a successful economy needs an outstanding vocational learning system and should not be seen as ‘second class education’ has received a boost today, in the report published by the Commission of Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning.
In particular, NIACE welcomes the Commission’s position that: