So much happening in Literacy and Numeracy

So much happening in Literacy and Numeracy

Since the last Federal election there has been a lot of literacy/numeracy activity, with much long-overdue change on the horizon. Many of us in the literacy/numeracy field feel that we are in a giant holding pattern on many fronts, awaiting the outcome of multiple reviews and the implementation of policy changes.

Those involved in literacy/numeracy peak bodies, along with the Hotline and others, have devoted a lot of effort to providing expert advice to enquiries and reviews, usually in a volunteer capacity. There is some frustration in the field with the number of government departments, agencies and consultants working on review projects…without a coordinating body, this results in these peak bodies providing the same information again and again.

Many of us are feeling tired and overwhelmed, but at this time of reform and energy across the literacy/numeracy landscape, we need to stay engaged.  Our knowledge is being called on now because so much of the specialist literacy/numeracy expertise and  ‘infrastructure’ has withered away in recent years: in universities, in the public service, and even within literacy/numeracy providers.

There is so much on the go:

  • The workforce crisis dominates and underpins most other issues. Work is needed on scholarships, commonwealth supported university places, permanent employment, professional development, pathways into LND careers at various levels, national occupation codes, and salary levels.
  • We need short-term solutions to address the immediate crisis, and long-term solutions to rebuild a robust cohort of professionals who have the deep knowledge to meet the needs of disadvantaged learners in any setting.
  • Teaching qualifications are being reconsidered in the context of widespread dissatisfaction with the Cert IV TAE. But there is enormous variation between states, between sectors, between funding programs, and between curriculums. So much work needs to be done to make sense of this maze, and to rationalize it.
  • States are looking for ideas from the field on the best use of funding from the new National Skills Agreement: many in the field have spent time on input into the redesign of SEE
  • The apprenticeship system is under review with a focus on the drop in course completions. Many of us are speaking up about the need to restore specialist LND support in all RTOs: it is the often-invisible glue that helps to ensure apprentices can complete their studies.
  • National Standards for RTOs have recently been tightened in relation to LLND, and unpacking the new guidelines will have implications for the workforce.
  • PIAAC and the JSA National Survey are both in the planning stages, with a lot of concern in the field about who may be surveyed about what, and how; and to what use the data will be put.
  • There are ten new Jobs and Skills Councils responsible for industry training packages and assessment. Most have new teams looking for advice on literacy, numeracy and Plain English in learning resources.
  • Meanwhile, our own ‘industry’ area is still without a home or leadership, as education doesn’t fit the JSC model….further demonstration of ‘withering’ of the LND ‘infrastructure’.
  • There is a new 10 year Foundation Skills Strategy being developed to replace the Foundation Skills Framework…

Is it surprising that we are feeling tired?

Perhaps in a decade we will look back on this period as an adult literacy Renaissance; a time when funding was restored, the workforce grew, numeracy was paid more than lip-service, and literacy practices once again centred on the learners’ needs.

For that to be the case, the Hotline team, our peak bodies, and experienced LND practitioners will need to continue to step up and share their expertise.