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Functional Literacy - New idea or déjà vu?: Reflections on adult literacy policy in England

Date: 24 February 2010 Time: 12.30 pm - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: IAS MR1

Professor Mary Hamilton, Department of Educational Research, and Dr Amy Burgess, Educational Research and LRC.

'Purpose: This paper has two purposes: to show how policy on adult literacy education is interpreted at different levels (e.g., national governments and local practitioners) and to discuss the slippages in key terms that can occur as policy becomes translated into practice. Taking England as our example, we will discuss the recent decision by the government to replace its Skills for Life strategy (Department for Education and Skills, 2001) with Functional Skills(Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2008). In order to provide a historical context, we discuss some of the different ways the term 'functional literacy' has been interpreted in the UK, the USA and Canada since its first appearance in the USA 50 years ago (Levine, 1982; Sticht, 2002). We trace the evolution of the Skills for Life strategy to argue that under the pressures of a vocational agenda, the discourse of literacy that underpins it has narrowed over time to make the current move into functional skills a seamless one.'


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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