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Professional development in adult literacy and numeracy: Graeme Smith

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Last updated 17 November 2016 10:01 by NZTecAdmin

View comments from Graeme Smith, Managing Director at Adult Literacy Education and Consulting (ALEC), taken at the Symposium in Hamilton, July 2011.

Key content

Graeme discusses the merits of national literacy and numeracy education qualifications for vocational and workplace tutors and trainers.


I think the issue of sustainability is a funding issue in many ways, and I don’t know if the funding's sustainable. If the funding's not sustainable then the professional development may not be sustainable in the way that we’re doing it at the moment. I think the issues won't go away though, so part of the creative process for us is thinking about, "Well if the funding did go away or diminish, are there other ways to do what we’re doing?" – I think there is. I think one of the ways that we can be more sustainable is we need to take the knowledge and skills that we’ve got and take it to the mainstream – take it to businesses directly rather than relying on some of the more traditional academic and educational tracks that we’ve had.

We’re trying to create a situation where we have a critical mass of instructors within the Department of Corrections who have NCAL, or NCALN as it’s been kind or rearranged, with skills, and tools, and strategies, who can basically be more effective trainers and instructors. Embed the literacy and numeracy that they need, that their learners need, into their training programmes; and hopefully make a difference to the employment outcomes and the life outcomes of some of their learners – people that are going through the system.

In between two of the big training sessions we get out and we see people onsite at the prisons where they do their training as well. I think being able to go to the site and just be able to talk to someone face-to-face within their environment, within the prison system, that does lots of things. It’s building that relationship; but it’s also allowing us to mentor one-to-one when we need to, and also we’re learning about their context at the same time so there’s that sort of reciprocal learning going on. And every time we deliver the next cohort, it’s kind of like another iteration of the things that we’ve learned from the first one, and the second one kind of gets fed back into the next one.

Part of the importance is, this is a professional qualification for vocational tutors, trades tutors to say, to recognise, they have some skills around literacy and numeracy in their particular context. So in that sense it’s quite unique, and it’s a qualification that has only existed in the last few years.

So what it does is it recognises professional competence within a trades tutor or a vocational tutor in this specific area of literacy and numeracy. And this field wasn’t professionalised before in the same way that it is now. So that’s an amazing thing and I think the qualification now, I think, has some recognition in the industry and is seen to be something as an industry standard.


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