Research, papers and responses

TAELLN411 survey results

Thank you to the 194 people who responded. We have provided the results to PwCs Skills for Australia to pass on to the Education IRC.
We are also developing two further papers from the findings that will be available in the Nov newsletter about practitioner qualifications and the ACSF.
Link: TAELLN411 survey results 2021

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Teaching experiences during the 2020 Covid-19 Isolation Period

The purpose of this study was for ACAL to learn what it was like teaching adult literacy and numeracy
using one or more online platforms during the recent COVID-19 isolation period. It is intended that this
report serve as a resource to stimulate conversations about online teaching in the field. The survey
comprised 25 questions, some of which were multiple-choice and others required a more extended
response. It was developed using Google Forms and, after a number of iterations, was distributed for
completion via the ACAL e-newsletter in early August 2020. 52 practitioners participated in the survey
and their responses were collated and are discussed briefly in this document.

Read more: here

2016 Literature reviews

During 2016, four foundation skills practitioners in the VET sector were selected to undertake literature reviews in different topic areas of adult foundation skills. The project was funded by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and supported through a partnership between the NCVER, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Australian Council for Adult Literacy (ACAL).

The project was conceived as an initiative to build the practitioner research capabilities of the foundation skills workforce by mentoring practitioners to plan and write literature reviews of current international and grey literature pertinent to the field, and then disseminating their reviews through NCVER’s public website.

The four scholars selected to undertake the project were: Lynda Cameron (TAFE NSW), Daniella Mayer (Chisholm Institute, Vic), Jo Medlin (TAFE NSW) and Jane Newton (Manufacturing Skills Australia). They were supported by mentors Keiko Yasukawa from UTS and Michelle Circelli from NCVER.

Exploring perspectives on adult language, literacy and numeracy

By Daniella Mayer, Occasional paper 9 December 2016

This review focuses on the perspectives of adult language, literacy and numeracy, particularly the human capital and social practices perspectives, which at times do not sit comfortably in relation to each other.


The Australian literacy and numeracy workforce: a literature review

By Joanne Medlin, Occasional paper 9 December 2016

This review focuses on the development of the literacy and numeracy workforce and critically discusses the roles of qualified and unqualified workers, volunteers and students and the link between teacher qualifications, teacher characteristics and student outcomes. It also considers modes of training, useful professional development content and the efficacy of professional frameworks for the literacy and numeracy workforce.


The salience of diversity in foundation skills contexts, pedagogies and research

By Lynda Cameron, Occasional paper 9 December 2016

This review looks at the different contexts in which adult language, literacy and numeracy are being delivered, who the learners are and the pedagogies in use, to elucidate what works best for whom and why. It highlights the need to learn more about the impact of non-formal learning environments on the development of foundation skills as ways of expanding our knowledge of good teaching and learning practices.


Foundation skills policy contexts and measures of impact

By Jane Newton, Occasional paper 9 December 2016

This review looks at policy contexts and their measures of impact, with a particular focus on foundation skills policy in Australia, implemented as the National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults, 2012—22. In doing so, it draws attention to the lack of research into foundation skills policy implementation and its impact.


Papers and responses

National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults

The National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults was launched on 28 September 2012 by the Hon Sharon Bird MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills.
The National Strategy focuses on improving outcomes for working age Australians (aged 15-64 years) with a view to moving more people to higher levels, but with a particular focus on those with low levels of foundation skill proficiency. Australian governments have set an aspirational target for the National Strategy that by 2022, two thirds of working age Australians will have literacy and numeracy skills at Level 3 or above.
Read ACAL’s response

ACAL’s response to ‘Creating a more flexible LLNP in 2013-16’

The Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program (LLNP), through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education has released a Discussion Paper on LLNP service delivery entitled, Creating a more flexible LLNP in 2013-16.
See the detailed ACAL responses to the questions raised by DIIRSTE in the Discussion Paper.

Papers and reports

National Reports

Building the foundations: outcomes from the adult language, literacy and numeracy search conference – NCVER

Following on from the May 2010 announcement of a $120 million investment by the Australian Government in adult literacy and numeracy activities, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) hosted a forum on behalf of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations on 13 September 2010 to explore these questions and to determine what needs to be done to find the answers.
This paper presents a summary of those discussions and recommendations for future action.

Training packages and Foundation Skills

This report ‘Foundation Skills in VET Products for the 21st Century’ comments on the design of Training Packages in relation to the effective delivery of Foundation Skills. More

National VET Equity Advisory Council

The National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC) is responsible for providing advice on the reforms and actions needed across the vocational education and training (VET) system to support equity and inclusiveness for all learners in VET.

Equity Blueprint 2011-2016 – Creating Futures: Achieving Potential through VET
NVEAC also commissioned a short briefing paper on foundations skills developed by Louise Wignall and Anita Roberts. This paper gives background information on key issues such as how these skills are defined, how they are being delivered, who gets access to training in these skills and outcomes being achieved.

Briefing on Foundation Skills

Australian workforce futures: a national workforce development strategy

Skills Australia
This paper reports on recommendations for a fundamental overhaul in the way the nation approaches and supports workforce development, at a national, industry and enterprise level. The vision for this strategy is that Australia has the workforce capability it requires for a productive, sustainable and inclusive future, and that Australian enterprises have the capacity to develop and use the skills of their workforce to maximum advantage for the benefit of industry and the community. The key aspects addressed by the paper are: (1) meeting Australia’s future skills and workforce demands; (2) raising workforce participation; (3) improving adult language, literacy and numeracy skills; (4) better using skills to increase productivity; (5) enhancing the capability of the tertiary education sector; and (6) creating a shared agenda on workforce futures. Several appendices are included, covering: preliminary costing of recommendations; the consultation process; specialised occupations; regional workforce participation; international examples; workforce development case studies; and a national reform agreement for Australian workforce development.

Creating a future direction for Australian vocational education and training: a discussion paper on the future of the VET system

Skills Australia
Fundamental changes to vocational education, including a user-pays funding model, a transformed apprenticeship system and the partial merger of TAFEs and universities, have been put forward by Skills Australia in this discussion paper. The paper describes vocational training as a system suffering from declining funding, stagnant enrolments and a lack of national co-ordination. In the paper, Skills Australia has put forward a range of options including: (1) a transformed funding model which would effectively make students and business the main source of income; (2) a restructure of the apprenticeship system – the new system would focus on boosting the 50 per cent student completion rate by offering personalised advice and career mentoring, the option of a pre-apprenticeship program to help course selection, and assessment based on competence rather than ‘doing the time’; (3) the possibility of blurring the lines between TAFEs and universities, including the creation of polytechnic colleges. It may also include more dual-sector institutions, especially if students demand better pathways between vocational education and higher education. Alternatively, vocational education providers may increase their entry into the degree area.

National Workforce Literacy Project :Report on Employers Views on Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Skills

Australian Industry Group
AiG received funding from DEEWR to conduct a project looking at employers’ perspectives on workforce literacy and numeracy.

Research Reports from NCVER

Blind date: an exploration of potential partnerships between literacy teachers and community service workers

Ann Leske
Partnerships between literacy teachers and community service workers have the potential to engage people with low literacy levels in learning. Through interviews and surveys with these two groups, this paper explores their views on literacy, how it impacts on their work, and their ideas about partnerships with each other. Overall, partnerships are viewed more favourably by literacy teachers than community service workers. In addition, if partnerships are to proceed, both groups need to develop a greater awareness and appreciation for each other’s roles. This research was undertaken by a novice researcher in the Community of Practice Program and was funded as part of NCVER’s Building Researcher Capacity initiative.

Breaking down the barriers: strategies to assist apprentices with a learning disability

Sandra Cotton
Apprentices with a learning disability can face significant barriers to completing their training. This paper explores what these apprentices, their lecturers and disability support staff see as the most effective strategies for helping them to overcome these difficulties. Instructional approaches which accommodate students’ learning styles, individual tutoring and supportive relationships were endorsed by all groups as effective. This research was undertaken by a novice researcher in the Community of Practice scholarship program, which is funded through NCVER’s Building Researcher Capacity initiative.

Bringing a social capital approach into the teaching of adult literacy and numeracy: Good practice guide

This good practice guide is based on research that looked at how to teach adult literacy and numeracy using a social capital approach. The guide suggests ways VET practitioners can adopt a social capital approach to their teaching practice. A social capital approach refers to the process in which networks are drawn on or created during the various stages of the literacy and numeracy program. The guide also outlines indicators of social capital outcomes.

ACAL documents prior to 2007

‘Adult literacy – a crucial part of the education revolution’

Media release November 2007 (PDF 100KB)

‘Moving forward: Towards a Literate Australia’

An ACAL Position Paper on the 2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills survey
Prepared by Dave Tout (2007) (PDF 400KB)

‘….. and literacy beyond the classroom’

ACAL’;s approach to literacy as both lifelong and lifewide.
Paper presented by Dr Pauline O’Maley to the ACAL Conference in New Zealand (Sept 2007) (PDF 80KB)

Community Education and National Reform

Discussion paper 2007 (PDF 700KB)
ACAL Response 2007 (PDF 565KB)

TAA Advanced Diploma of LLN practice

ACAL’s response (June 2004) (HTML)

Senate Inquiry into the progress and future directions of life-long learning

ACAL Submission (June 2004) (PDF 104KB)

Literate Australia: A whole life approach

Report No 1: Taking literacy to fresh fields
By Jane Figgis, AAAJ Consulting Group (September 2004) (PDF 400KB)

‘A Literate Australia’

National Position Paper on the Future
Adult Literacy and Numeracy
Needs of Australia (2001) (PDF 280KB)

‘Surveys and Beyond: The case for adult literacy’

National surveys and national campaigns paper
(Undated paper likely June 2001) HTML

‘Literacy and youth’

In this paper ACAL shares
the results of independent research commissioned to explore
issues relating to literacy and current youth policy initiatives (2001) (280KB)

‘Literacy and Lifelong Learning: Social Justice for all?’

Occasional paper by Chris Sidoti, Visiting Professor, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University speaking at ACAL Forum, Sydney 15 June 2001 (PDF 140KB)