Basic Skills

Department for Education written question – answered at on 25 October 2023.

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Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Education)

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

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

This government is committed to supporting people to climb the ladder of opportunity towards better jobs, better wellbeing and better options for the future.

To enable this, the department recognises the importance of literacy and numeracy skills, both in work and everyday life. Securing good levels of literacy and numeracy increases individual productivity, improves earnings and employment opportunities, supports economic growth and breaks cycles of intergenerational economic and social disadvantage. That is why the department is continuing to support participation in English and maths provision through our ‘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.

Learners can 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 training for adults 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.

The department is also delivering Multiply, the government’s programme for improving adult numeracy, funded through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, 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.

The free courses for jobs offer, which was launched in April 2021, gives eligible adults the chance to access high value level 3 qualification for free, which can support them to gain higher wages or a better job. The offer includes a number of qualifications in maths, for example a level 3 Certificate in Mathematical Studies.

In addition, Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills, with an offer of a job interview with an employer on completion. Skills Bootcamps are available in a variety of skill areas, including digital, technical, construction, logistics (HGV driving), and skills that support the green economy.

The department is scaling up Skills Bootcamps delivery to 64,000 starts by the 2024/25 financial year through national procurement and grant funding to 28 Mayoral Combined Authorities and local areas.

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