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Table of Contents Foreword




Current Programmes and Principal Areas of Activity


The Consultation Process


Key Issues emerging from the Consultation Process


Vision and Values of the Literacy Development Centre


Goals/Actions/Measures of Achievement


Management and Monitoring of the Plan






Foreword I am delighted with the opportunity to provide this foreword to the Literacy Development Centre, Strategic Plan 2010-2014.

Since its inception in 1997, the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) Accreditation Project has contributed to the professional development of staff in the literacy service in Ireland through its programmes, research and collaboration with other national stakeholders. The Literacy Development Centre, incorporates the NALA/ WIT Accreditation Project and is a unique partnership which has worked to develop a suite of qualifications that offer those working in the adult literacy field an opportunity for career development. Lifelong learning is key to any person’s development, both in social and economic terms. The core skills and key competencies that comprise our modern definition of ‘literacy’ enable people to fulfil their potential. We know that good literacy enables people to benefit more from the upskilling and retraining programmes that are a significant part of the policies currently being implemented to tackle the current high levels of unemployment. Annually up to 50,000 learners avail of literacy tuition through the VEC literacy service - that’s not including the hundreds of thousands of other learners who enhance their literacy through other further education and training programmes. For these learners, it is vital that a quality service exists to provide accredited courses for the tutors and other practitioners working in the sector and the Literacy Development Centre aims to do just that: develop enhanced flexible learning options, recognised qualifications, improved partnerships and research capacity. The staff and learners deserve no less.

In that context, and in particular at this difficult time for our country, it is important to review the quality of services provided and set out a road map for the future. This Strategic Plan sets out the Centre’s goals for the next four years alongside a review of its services. The plan maps the next stage of their provision and will undoubtedly result in improved services for practitioners and ultimately learners throughout Ireland. It’s a valuable contribution to our ongoing policy making in this area. I congratulate the Literacy Development Centre for their hard work in providing professional development options for those working in the literacy service. I look forward to the continued development in the quality of the literacy service provided to learners nationwide and for my part I will continue to push the needs of the sector with my Government colleagues.

Seán Haughey, T.D. Minister for Lifelong Learning


Designing, developing and delivering third level qualifications to practitioners working in the adult literacy sector in Ireland



Introduction The Literacy Development Centre, incorporating the NALA/WIT Accreditation Project, is a national partnership between the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) that was established in 1997 to design, develop and deliver third level qualifications to practitioners working in the adult literacy sector in Ireland. The NALA/WIT Accreditation Project is part of the Literacy Development Centre, based in the School of Education and Professional Development in WIT. The programmes were designed following consultation with key stakeholders including the Department of Education and Science, the Vocational Education Committees (VEC’s), adult literacy practitioners and learners and have been reviewed both at Institutional level in WIT and by external agencies to ensure they continue to reflect the changing national context and the needs of a diverse body of learners. The requirement for professional development for practitioners was clearly identified following publication of the report on the International Adult Literacy Survey (OECD, 1997), that identified 1 in 4 adults in Ireland who had very low literacy levels. The rationale for the development of qualifications for those working in the adult literacy sector was to ensure that practitioners had access to professional development programmes that would enable them to best support literacy learners. The need to continue to support those working in the sector remains a priority if a consistent, quality adult literacy service is to achieve challenging targets. European and national policy governing adult literacy and adult basic education continues to identify the need for quality training and education for those working in the sector. The professional development needs of those working in the adult literacy service remain a priority and the goals and corresponding actions set out in this strategic plan aim to address those needs.

The Literacy Development Centre has built on its experience over the last number of years in the area of programme design and delivery, research and collaboration with other national agencies and this new strategic plan aims to continue to build on this experience and contribute at national and international level to the field of adult literacy. The current national context is a turbulent one, these are challenging times and the future is uncertain. There are regulatory changes in the qualifications area that may affect the literacy service and those working in it and there are also potential structural changes in the management of the adult literacy service that may impact on how the service is delivered. There is also some evidence that the needs of those accessing the service is changing and this presents new challenges to those involved in the provision of support for adult literacy learners. It is with these challenges in mind that this strategic plan was developed and over the period of the plan, 2010-2014, we hope that our programmes, initiatives and research will continue to contribute to the professional development of practitioners working with adult literacy learners and reflect the values set down in our vision of equality, social justice and inclusion.

Helen Murphy Head of Literacy Development Centre


Current Programmes and Key Areas of Activity in the Literacy Development Centre Today the Literacy Development Centre oers programmes designed for both managers and tutors working in adult literacy and for practitioners in the adult basic education service who are involved in literacy support.



The programmes aim to equip practitioners with practical skills combined with the theoretical knowledge required to support their professional practice. The programmes are designed to reflect issues and perspectives in adult literacy and the broader adult education field and are delivered in a mode that is reflective of the ethos and culture of adult learning. The portfolio of programmes today includes:

Collaboration with other National and European Stakeholders

Professional development of teachers in Adult Basic Education

• Higher Certificate in Arts in Literacy Development Level 6 NFQ

Standards of qualifications in adult basic and further education

Initial tutor training models for adult literacy practitioners

Building modular programmes for adult learners

Workplace basic education - National Skills Strategy

Curriculum development in Adult Literacy Programmes

• Bachelor of Arts (Ordinary) in Adult Education Level 7 NFQ • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Adult Education Level 8 NFQ The programmes are delivered on a national basis at a number of centres around Ireland and also at local level in partnership with individual VEC’s. All programmes are modular in nature and are designed to be flexible and enable participants to pursue study while working.

Other Areas of Activity In addition to the development and delivery of third level qualifications, the Literacy Development Centre is also involved in a number of other activities including:

Research The Centre has been an active participant in two EU Grundtvig Projects in recent years and has contributed to the development of tutor training modules for European programmes in the field of adult literacy. Staff have successfully competed for national funding to supervise research at Masters degree level in the adult literacy field. A number of action research projects have been undertaken by staff to inform and improve practice in areas including creativity and literacy teaching methodologies.

The Centre has been an active participant in a number of National and European working groups and has contributed in areas including:

Conference Presentations The Centre has also contributed to national and international academic networks through presentations and policy papers addressing issues in the field such as:

A model for tutor training in the Adult Basic Education field

Qualifications for Adult Literacy Tutors

Literacy as social practice

Curriculum development in adult literacy

Adult literacy teaching methodologies

The delivery of Blended Learning modules in an adult learning programme

Graduates The Centre has over 300 graduates of full award programmes and over 2000 people have completed single modules since 1997.

Funding The Centre is based in the School of Education and Professional Development in WIT in Waterford and is fully funded by the Further Education section of the Department of Education and Skills.



The Consultation Process An extensive consultation process was completed in preparation for this strategic plan.

An internal consultative process involving academic and administrative staff was completed through a number of facilitated workshops. This was followed by an external consultation process involving a range of stakeholders that took place earlier this year and both individuals and groups took part in discussions based around a number of themes including:

The Centre’s activities to date

Future challenges for the Centre

Key issues in the adult literacy sector

System and structural changes in the adult literacy service

Research at local, national and international level

The skills required by adult educators in the future

Regulation in further education and adult basic education services

External stakeholders consulted included representatives from the following organisations:

• • • • • • • • • • •

Adult Literacy Organisers Association Aontas Basic Education Tutors Association City of Cork VEC City of Waterford VEC County Dublin VEC Department of Education and Skills FÁS National Adult Literacy Forum National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)

The discussions that took place as part of the consultation process for this strategic plan were extremely informative and contributed to the goals and actions set down in the plan. A summary of the principal themes discussed with stakeholders is contained in the following section.



Key Issues Emerging from the Consultation Process The adult literacy sector continues to undergo change and the service faces challenges in the future with potential structural change, new regulations affecting those working in the sector and the changing needs of literacy learners. Recent reports (Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, 2009) express a need for continued efficiencies in the delivery of public services and possible amalgamation and integration of services delivered by national and local authorities. These changes may affect the governance and management of adult literacy services as part of the adult basic education services currently offered.

literacy and numeracy in order to ensure the service is supported by practitioners who contribute to a community of practice for literacy and numeracy and share and disseminate learning in the field.

The integration of literacy support across adult basic education services was cited by a number of stakeholder groups as an opportunity for the literacy service to play an important role in supporting adults returning to learning (across a number of programme areas).

The issue of qualifications for those working as tutors and support workers in the adult literacy sector remains unclear. New regulations introduced governing the Further Education sector have set down a requirement for a Teacher Education Qualification (TEQ), however, it remains uncertain whether literacy tutors will be required to possess this new qualification or whether an equivalent qualification will be agreed at national level. This issue of qualifications, combined with the lack of a defined career structure within the service for adult literacy tutors, means that there remains a significant degree of uncertainty for a large part of the workforce and presents a risk to the service at large as a result. The Centre continues to engage with all stakeholders in this process to ensure the programmes it provides meet any new regulatory requirements and equip those pursuing qualifications with the national recognition required by employers and national agencies responsible for standards in the field.

While the integration of literacy is vital to ensuring acquisition of the generic skills required by all accessing support programmes, it remains critical that we continue to train and educate specialists in the field of

The changing needs of literacy learners and indeed the changing profile of learners accessing the service is a common theme cited by almost all stakeholder groups consulted as part of the development of this strategic

Structural change also presents challenges to those managing the service today and into the future. The traditional management skills of planning, budgeting, the management of resources and people are no longer sufficient and new skills in the area of stakeholder management, managing change, strategic planning and managing diversity will be required if the service is to meet a new and ever-changing environment.



plan. Rising unemployment levels and a potential future of high unemployment (ERSI, 2010) means that there are an increasing number of learners accessing a variety of programmes through the adult basic education service that require literacy support. The issue of learner motivation is one which may present challenges to tutors in the future as learners may not be self selecting but may be obliged to pursue a course of study in order to continue to receive state benefits. The changing needs of learners are also reflected in the emergence of new or multiple literacies. Financial literacy, health and environmental literacy are increasingly cited as emerging literacies and continued developments in technology present new challenges in the field of digital literacy. Literacy learners will need support across these new multiple literacies to be able to participate in family, community and work settings. To address this new and changing landscape, much discussion took place about the skills that adult literacy practitioners would require in the future. Many stakeholders expressed the need for practitioners to continue to acquire expertise in the field of teaching methodologies, communication and inter-personal skills and an increasing emphasis on creativity and reflective practice. A continued focus on curriculum development, assessment and feedback mechanisms for adult learners were considered important by all. The other key skills cited by a number of stakeholders were: ensuring that practitioners had a thorough understanding of how to integrate technology into their teaching; how to recognise, support and refer adults with specific learning difficulties; and for those involved in managing the service, skills in the strategic planning and management areas were thought to be critical as well as knowledge of innovative social marketing practices to attract the difficult to reach learners. Stakeholders are looking for increased opportunities to access programmes, improved consultative processes for programme design, partnership approaches to tackling national initiatives, flexibility regarding

programme delivery and excellence in programme content. Most stakeholders cited the importance of the role of technology in meeting these objectives and emphasised that practitioners need to be fully technologically aware both in their own practice and in their use of technology as a teaching tool. In addition to the third level programmes offered through the Literacy Development Centre, there was a general consensus amongst practitioners about the need for continued professional development opportunities for those working directly in the adult literacy field and also those working in adult basic education within the further education sector. The requirement to provide on-going support in the form of shorter programmes, not necessarily leading to accreditation, was deemed important for the continued development of staff. Whilst training per se is not within the remit of the Literacy Development Centre it is an area that the Centre may be able to contribute through the development of more flexible shorter award based programmes. Finally, many stakeholders expressed the need for the Literacy Development Centre to play a role in communicating the value of adult literacy work. Communicating and developing a shared understanding amongst national stakeholders of the value and impact of adult literacy work within and beyond the current policy contexts of unemployment and qualifications is critical. It is important that the Centre espouses the value of adult literacy development in a broader sense and as such underpins the core values of social justice, equality and inclusion. This strategic plan aims to set goals for the Literacy Development Centre that address the above issues and take into account the views of all stakeholders in order to ensure that practitioners in the adult literacy sector are provided with programmes that support their personal and professional development and that best support the national delivery of a high quality service for all those accessing literacy support.



Promoting values that are learner centred and reflect social justice, equality and inclusion

Vision and Values of the Literacy Development Centre Vision The vision of the Literacy Development Centre is to be recognised as the leading provider of third level programmes to practitioners in the adult literacy field, as a significant contributor to academic research and to promote values that are learner centred and reflect social justice, equality and inclusion.

Values The values that will underpin the work of the Literacy Development Centre include Equality, Inclusiveness, Independence, Social Justice, Responsiveness and Flexibility.

Goals • • • • •

Delivering nationally recognised qualifications Designing innovative, flexible programmes of learning Developing research capacity Building effective partnerships Supporting team based collaboration



Goal 1 National Recognition of Programmes The development and delivery of nationally recognised qualifications to adult literacy practitioners. Rationale This goal is the primary objective of the Literacy Development Centre and is critical for the development of a professional workforce that delivers a vital national service.

Measures of Achievement

The number of practitioners accessing and completing our qualifications.

The range of qualifications we offer to practitioners

The introduction of teaching practice to our programmes

The publication of updated standards for initial tutor training

The provision of accessible progression routes for practitioners

The quality and relevance of our programmes measured through an on-going system of evaluation at Centre and Institutional level

The range of partner projects we engage in and their subsequent evaluation

Recognition of our programmes by national agencies and employers for the purposes of securing employment within the sector

Whether our programmes meet regulatory requirements set down in the sector

To achieve this goal we will

Review our programmes ensuring the content, design and delivery reflect current national and international debate Work in partnership with stakeholders, in particular the Vocational Education Committees to deliver modules and programmes regionally as well as nationally Engage with national bodies including the Department of Education and Skills and the Teaching Council to ensure that programmes designed by the Centre meet requirements relating to new national standards for those working in the adult literacy field

Keep informed of policy changes affecting those working in the sector

Develop a model for teaching practice for our programmes in line with new regulatory requirements affecting those involved in adult literacy development work based on available resources

Review the standards and guidelines set down for Initial Tutor training for adult literacy schemes and communicate these to all schemes

Develop a post-graduate progression route specific to adult literacy practitioners



Goal 2 Innovative, Flexible Programmes of Learning We will provide a range of programmes that offer flexible modes of study, progression routes and innovative modes of delivery to stakeholders. Rationale There is a growing need for flexible and innovative programmes of learning that address the requirement for high quality flexible third level programmes that are modular in nature and reflective of the needs of adult learners

Measures of Achievement

Evaluation of all programmes against international models used to support adult literacy practitioners to ensure they are in line with best national and international practice

The extent of the geographical reach of the programmes

The range of shorter award programmes available

The extent to which technology is utilised on our programmes

The availability of progression routes at postgraduate level for our graduates

To achieve this goal we will

Offer programmes on a regional basis and where possible at local level when resources permit

Develop new shorter programmes (minor and special purpose awards) that cater for specific needs in line with national policy driven initiatives

Explore how the continued professional development needs of practitioners can be met, either through the Centre or through a partnership with another provider

Consult with stakeholder groups on an annual basis to review emerging needs identified in the field

Explore how technology can be used to widen participation on our programmes



Goal 3 Research To develop the research capacity of the Literacy Development Centre. Rationale The Literacy Development Centre must develop research expertise and capacity in order to inform future programme development, contribute to the academic community nationally and internationally and also input into policy at national level.

Measures of achievement

Assessment of the research output of the Centre on an annual basis

Dissemination of the Centre’s research on an annual basis

Measurement of the research funding secured by the Centre

The number and range of opportunities taken by the Centre to capture and share its research with practitioners in the adult literacy field

Participation at national and international conferences and fora

To achieve this goal we will

Collate and disseminate research completed to date at local, national and European level

Develop an active link between teaching and research to capture, explore, develop and disseminate best practice in adult literacy development

Identify and agree specific areas of research interest within the Centre and communicate these areas to all relevant stakeholders

Actively pursue research funding through a co-ordinated Centre led and supported approach

Develop a dissemination strategy for all research conducted and identify appropriate channels for dissemination

Provide evidence based research to policy makers to inform decision making related to adult literacy (contingent on successful funding applications)

Identify and pursue research partners at national and international level

Develop a research driven strategic partnership to share opportunities for learning and conducting research into adult literacy with a national or international partner



Goal 4 Partnership To build effective partnerships with relevant stakeholder groups in the adult literacy, adult basic education and further education sectors to heighten awareness of the value of adult literacy work and the needs of practitioners working in the field. Rationale There are an increasing number of national stakeholders involved in literacy development and in order to share learning and input into national initiatives a partnership approach by the Centre is fundamental

We will monitor our progress by

Assessing annual communications with stakeholder groups via web based questionnaire

Assessment of the feedback of the annual stakeholder survey

Monitoring traffic on our web site on an annual basis

Assessment of the range and number of contributions to national committees, working groups and institutional projects

Number of stakeholder events supported annually by the Centre.

To achieve this goal we will

Identify all stakeholder groups and adopt a suitable mode of communication with all stakeholders

Communicate to internal and external stakeholders regarding the activities of the LDC

Optimise the use of our web site to communicate information relating to our activities based on available funding and resources

Contribute to national committees, institutional and national working groups relevant to adult basic education and adult literacy

Conduct an annual web based stakeholder survey

Develop communication channels that represent meaningful engagement with stakeholders

Support stakeholder events and initiatives to heighten awareness of the value of adult literacy work where the Centre has the available resources

Ensure all communication issued by the Centre to stakeholders is clear and consistent.



Goal 5 Building a Collaborative, Team Based National Literacy Development Centre To develop and support all those involved in the Centre including academic staff, administrative staff, part-time contributors and visiting lecturers. Rationale The outreach nature of much of the work at the Literacy Development Centre presents challenges for all those involved to share learning and experiences and debate issues and concepts.

Measures of achievement

The development of regular and clear communications with all staff to include team meetings, web based communication and remote access to support materials

The development of a web based space for shared learning

The completion of an evaluation of support services to part-time staff

The progress of staff pursuing further education opportunities

The number of staff development events and feedback on these events

To achieve this goal we will

Provide a supportive learning environment that values collaboration and team shared learning

Identify opportunities to provide a link between part-time and full time academic staff

Ensure that staff teaching off site on an outreach basis are fully supported in their needs

Involve all staff in regular team meetings

Conduct annual staff development event (both full and part-time staff )

Promote the continued professional development of all staff through the provision of support for further education and training under the WIT continued professional development fund

Provide and support opportunities for promotion and secondment both within and external to the Institute



Management and Monitoring of the Strategic Plan 2010-2014 The Literacy Development Centre reports to a Management Committee comprised of representatives from the National Adult Literacy Agency and Waterford Institute of Technology.

The implementation of this strategic plan will be overseen by the Management Committee and an annual report on progress will be presented by the Head of the Centre to the Committee.

The Management Committee meets three times per year to review operations, resources and budgets.

A summary of progress on the above plan will be communicated via the Centre’s web site each year in January and will be available to all stakeholders.

The Centre provides the Department of Education and Skills, its primary funder, with annual audited accounts.

The achievement of the goals set out in this plan will be dependent on available resources and continued funding allocated to the Centre for the duration of the plan.



References Department of Education and Skills (2010) Update on National Skills Strategy, Dublin, Stationery Office. European Commission (2001) Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality, Brussels, European Commission. European Commission (2008) Adult Learning Professions in Europe, Brussels, European Commission. European Commission (2007) It is always a good time to learn: Action Plan on Adult Learning, Brussels, European Commission. Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (2007) Tomorrows Skills, towards a national skill strategy 5th report, Dublin, Stationery Office. FÁS/ERSI (2010) Manpower Forecasting Studies, Report No. 13, Dublin: The Economic and Social Research Institute. Field, J (2009) Promoting Equality Through Lifelong Learning, Proceedings of a national conference entitled “Equality in a Time of Change, Mainstreaming Equality in Further Education, Training and Labour Market Programmes”, Dublin. Houses of the Oireachtas, Joint Committee on Education and Science, Fourth Report, (2006) Adult Literacy in Ireland, Dublin: Stationery Office OECD (1997) Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society: Further Results from the International Adult Literacy Survey, Paris, OECD. Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes (2009) Report of the Special Group on Public Sector Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, Dublin, Stationery Office.


Department of Education and Skills Irish Vocational Education Association Literacy Development Centre National Adult Literacy Agency Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Vocational Education Committee Waterford Institute of Technology

Strategic plan 2010-2014  

Literacy Development Centre Strategic Plan