Literacy and Numeracy: Standards

Department for Education written question – answered am ar 15 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to help improve adult (a) numeracy and (b) literacy skills.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Minister of State (Education)

This government recognises the importance of literacy and numeracy skills in both work and everyday life. Securing good levels of literacy and numeracy has a positive impact on participation in society, improves earnings and employment opportunities and opens doors to further learning.

That is why the department is continuing to support participation in English and mathematics provision through its essential skills entitlements which provide the opportunity of free study for adults who do not have essential literacy and numeracy skills up to and including Level 2.

This allows learners who have not previously attained a GCSE grade 4 or higher to undertake a range of courses fully funded through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) including GCSEs, Functional Skills and other relevant qualifications from entry level to Level 2.

The department also supports adults in England who are non-native speakers to access English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision, which is funded through the AEB.

Further training for adults is available in community settings through the AEB. Prioritised for disadvantaged learners, Community Learning can provide a stepping stone for those adults who are not ready for formal accredited learning or who would benefit from learning in a more informal way.

Currently approximately 60% of the AEB is devolved to nine Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and delegated to the Mayor of London acting through the Greater London Authority (GLA). These authorities are responsible for the provision of adult education and the allocation of the AEB in their local areas.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responsible for the remaining AEB in non-devolved areas where colleges and training providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB to meet the needs of their communities.

​​In addition, the department funds all apprentices, including adults, to achieve up to a Level 2 in English and maths by the end of their apprenticeship, where they do not already hold a suitable equivalent qualification. In January, the department increased funding by a minimum of 54%, from £471 to £724, for new apprentices to help them gain these vital skills.

The department have also launched the Multiply Programme to improve adult numeracy. The programme is funded through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is the government’s flagship fund for supporting people and places across the UK. Up to £270 million is directly available for local areas in England to deliver innovative interventions to improve adult numeracy. Delivery is now well underway. Multiply Programme provision is available across the country, with over 113,000 course starts in England since the programme began to the end of January 2024.

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