Memorandum from the National Institute
of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) (SQ11)
NIACE (the National Institute of Adult Continuing
Education) welcomes the report of HM Chief Inspector for 2000-01
and its important signals about basic skills programmes for adults
and young people. NIACE is disappointed at the insufficient attention
given by OFSTED to the generality of adult learning.
1. NIACE welcomes the Chief inspector's
report on 2000-01. The report's title is a misnomer, however.
This report is almost entirely about schools and not the whole
area of "education". The new inspection arrangements
which put OFSTED in the lead inspection role for colleges had
only just begun in 2000-01. Five colleges were inspected. The
Chief Inspector picks out for special mention some key issues
which have a knock-on effect for adult learners in the future:
slight improvement in standards of
attainment of boys in English lags
the reduction of arts, creative and
practical subjects in some primary schools;
the failure of some children to "grasp
the basics of literacy and numeracy";
improving expectations of learners
and quality of provision for those with special educational needs;
unacceptable variations in students'
performance in schools and post-compulsory provision;
poor achievements of African-Caribbean,
Pakistani, Bangladeshi heritage, and travellers; and
the significant number of "pupils"
not in education.
2. In the post-compulsory sector, inspectors
found that a frequent weakness in the five colleges was "a
failure to identify and respond to students with low levels of
basic skills" (paragraph 192). The quality of the teaching
of literacy and numeracy in prisons and secure accommodation was
also "too often unsatisfactory" (198). Frequently, the
report says, "there is insufficient provision of entry and
foundation level courses, basic skills programmes, and programmes
for students with learning difficulties" (187).
3. NIACE is disappointed that there is insufficient
mention of adult learning in the report, even though Ofsted is
the lead organisation for the inspection of colleges and had sole
responsibility for LEA adult education provision for many years.
Among the five key weaknesses, OFSTED notes three of interest
to the post-compulsory education sector:
absence of initial assessment, and
lack of recognition that students of different abilities may require
insufficient focus on what students
are learning; and
failure to identify and respond to
students with literacy/numeracy difficulties.
4. NIACE looks forward next year to a greater
consideration of quality in relation to adult learning in colleges.
The hope is that adult learning in colleges is treated with more
importance than OFSTED treated LEA adult education services.