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ACAL eNews is the electronic newsletter of the Australian Council of Adult Literacy (ACAL) and is distributed free to people interested in adult literacy and numeracy. See below for subscription details or to unsubscribe.
In this issue
Congratulations and thank you to Keiko Yasukawa and the NSW ALNC Council for hosting a successful ACAL 2013. Some really interesting papers and presentations are being loaded on the ACAL website for your interest.
The 2013-14 committee is
In addition the Immediate Past President is Geri Pancini.
State representatives are nominated by the state associations and currently these are
Please contact me if you have ideas for ACAL to consider in its planning for the next year.
This year's conference was hosted in Sydney by the NSW Adult Literacy and Numeracy Council, in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney. Two recent international and national initiatives informed the focus of the pre-conference and the conference.
The first was the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults released late last year. Various initiatives are being rolled out but there has been silence in the area of research. This provided an opportunity at this year's pre-conference forum to bring practitioners, policy managers, education providers, teacher educators and researchers to come together to identify what these diverse members of the field believed were necessary to strengthen the field's research base. Rosie Wickert chaired the forum and key points emerging from the forum will be made available soon.
The second was the imminent (at the time of the conference) release of the results from the OECD Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) for each of the 24 participating countries. With transnational initiatives increasingly shaping national policies , the conference theme was chosen to encourage conference participants to focus on considering what globalisation might mean in people's lives - and in particular their literacy and numeracy practices, at the local level. The first keynote speaker Jeff Evans, from Middlesex University, and member of the PIAAC International Expert Group for Numeracy provided an overview of the PIAAC, what it can say and what it can't, and provided some of the critical numeracy skills we need to use when we examine the results. Inge Kral from the Australian National University, Mary Hamilton from Lancaster University and Alastair Pennycook from the University of Technology, Sydney shared their rich ethnographic studies of local literacy and language practices in different communities, and argued why we always need to 'start from the local' in the way we understand and teach literacy. In addition to the keynote addresses, the conference benefited from over 50 parallel sessions by enthusiastic presenters sharing their teaching approaches, learning materials, organisational responses to policy imperatives, as well as critical analyses of the state of adult literacy and numeracy education.
The conference attracted an international audience, including participants from the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Cook Islands, Sweden, as well as all the states and territories of Australia.
The Organizing Committee expresses its thanks to all those who contributed to making the conference a success.
The results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) for the participating countries were released on the evening of 8 October. The international media responded quickly with many of the Japanese media services congratulating Japan coming 'first' in literacy and numeracy, while the UK press described the UK results as akin to an 'economic car crash in slow motion'. The PIACC release was not prominent in the Australian press, perhaps because the Australian results are not markedly good nor bad in the international league tables these surveys create.
Responses to the 'Scoping a Foundation Skills Professional Standards Framework' Consultation are now available on the ACAL website.
ACAL and several state councils have responded to the SCOTESE consultation paper on 'Scoping a Foundation Skills Professional Standards Framework'. ACAL's response acknowledges the importance of well-qualified teachers in delivering quality foundation skills programs, it also signalled reservations about our field(s) of adult literacy and adult numeracy being renamed as foundation skills.
See the responses from ACAL and the state councils.
Here in WA we have had some consultation workshops relating to 'Scoping a foundation skills professional standards framework' which is one of the facets of the Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project. As well as the more formal workshops (both online and face-to-face) the topic has been raised and discussed (over recent weeks) more informally with a variety of stakeholders. There have been some strongly recurring points and concerns raised by practitioners as well as some disconcerting opinions expressed by program managers.
Recurring themes and concerns from practitioners
Misapprehensions expressed by non-practitioners
The concern looming largest for most practitioners was that of ending up in a situation similar to that with the Cert IV in Training and Assessment with a requirement that they continually re-do the qualification. It is also perhaps significant that the worries relating to the risk of lowering standards expressed by practitioners seem already to be mirrored by the opinions of some managers.
Jo Hart is a Foundation Skills Champion working in Western Australia. The aim of the Champions’ Network is to raise the profile of foundation skills practitioners and their value within the wider VET workforce.
We are using the theme of a spiral as a metaphor for literacy learning. Learners go through a literacy or numeracy learning stage once or many times throughout their lives. While a single stage might have specific characteristics, the way we engage in it is never the same and the differences between stages are never discrete because we are always integrating new information and utilising other resources. We constantly absorb and play with new ideas and adopt new literate and numerate practices, become involved in different ways with family or the community and, move forward or sideways in work settings.
Our conference will focus on the literacy or numeracy learner. How do literacy and numeracy theories and research outcomes inform our practice? How do national or state policies affect the individual learner? How can we ensure that teachers and trainers have the knowledge and skills to meet individual needs?
We shall be inviting some keynote speakers to assist us in thinking about literacy and numeracy learning as people move through different aspects of their lives in a range of different contexts and capacities.
We invite you to participate in the conference by giving a presentation or joining in discussion and networking.
We look forward to seeing you on Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast in October 2014.
Literacy is for life.
Jean Searle and the 2014 ACAL Conference committee
An OctoberVET event is being held at TAFE NSW Sydney Institute - St George campus on 31 October, on the topic of 'Building research capacity and culture in VET'. Contact Linda Simon email@example.com
26TEN Get the tools for life is busy building networks statewide. Literacy service providers are getting together and building action plans for change; and more than 41 organisations are delivering 26TEN grants programs with funding managed by Skills Tasmania. Go to http://26ten.tas.gov.au
TCAL enjoyed a very successful Annual State Conference in August. It was our most well attended conference to date with many workshops and presentations jam packed with professional development opportunities. Nick McKim MP, Minister for Education and Skills opened the conference.
Further activities include Tasmanian Regional Arts delivering a statewide digital literacy program for their members. The Older Wiser and connected onLine (OWL) program is funded by the Productive Ageing through Community Education (PAtCE) Program.
See Item 4.1