New report highlights best practice in English and maths provision for London

By Jules Pipe CBE, Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration and Skills


26 01 2023


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Basic English and maths skills are crucial for Londoners to access further education, good work and to support them to participate in their communities and improve personal wellbeing.

As such, supporting Londoners to achieve basic skills is a priority for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. However, sadly, we know that too many Londoners are without these skills and, thus, less likely to be in good work. For example, it is estimated that 58 per cent of Londoners have low numeracy skills; this, unfortunately, reflects the national picture. For one of the most developed countries in the world, this is a travesty.

The Mayor and I recognise the excellent work that is already being done across the adult education system in London to increase learner numbers and to deliver more positive outcomes for Londoners through skills provision in English and maths.

The Mayor’s Skills Roadmap for London emphasised the importance of basic skills in supporting Londoners to progress in learning and work and committed to keeping this as a key focus of London’s adult skills system – ensuring provision is accessible, relevant, and impactful.

Through London’s Adult Education Budget (AEB), we are already supporting thousands of Londoners to get the English and maths skills they need for life and work. However, we know that people can still be put off learning by things like financial difficulties and practical and attitudinal barriers such as lack of awareness and negative past experiences of education.

Effective practice in English and maths for adult learners in London

A new Learning and Work Institute report, ‘Effective practice in English and maths for adult learners in London’, commissioned by the GLA, seeks to respond to this challenge. The report identifies barriers to participation and achievement in basic English and maths training, highlighting examples of good practice that can be used to make skills provision more accessible, impactful and focused on delivering improved social and economic outcomes for learners.

Key findings are presented through key points of the learner journey including recruitment and engagement, retention and persistence and progression and achievement.

This includes case studies that demonstrate best practice. For example, one provider identified spelling as a key skills gap among their English learner cohort. To address this, they ran a 6-week supplementary spelling course to complement their English course. By putting learner needs at the centre of provision they saw high attendance and achievement and increased confidence and ability amongst learners.

The report sets out ten recommendations that can be used by adult skills providers to continue to improve learners’ awareness and experience of learning. This includes:

  • Considering marketing and communication strategies and varying forms of communication to stimulate demand.
  • Enhancing partnership working between providers, community organisations and employers.
  • Using the full flexibility of the Adult Education Budget and Multiply, including provision of non-accredited learning where appropriate.
  • Developing and maintaining a diverse, differentiated and flexible learning offer which meets learners’ needs, including community-based and workplace provision
  • Supporting wider outcomes measurement of English and maths learning, enhancing the evidence base on the impact of adult English and maths learning.

The report also presents recommendations for the GLA to support providers across London.

I am pleased to say we are already taking action to improve access to learning for more Londoners than ever before, including the 13.5% (overall) uplift in funding per learner in courses at level 2 and below (the London Factor), delivering London’s first Adult Learner Awards, joining up key employment and skills services through the No Wrong Door programme, opening up learning to more Londoners in low pay by extending the financial eligibility for AEB learners to London’s Living Wage (£11.95 per hour), providing targeted outreach through the Community Outreach Fund and supporting over 30,000 Londoners with no or low numeracy qualifications to access training for free through the delivery of the London Multiply programme.

Through this report, we hope to support providers in making learning even more accessible, impactful, and locally relevant for Londoners, ensuring that learning supports progression in life and work.

I look forward to working together with the sector as we continue to increase participation and achievement in English and maths.

By Jules Pipe CBE

Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration and Skills

Pro Bono Economics (2021). Counting on the Recovery: The role for numeracy skills in ‘levelling up’ the UK