This is a very narrowly focused post. I’m writing about something that’s probably obscure and not relevant for most people. However, it is for me. So… I’m basically writing this as a note to myself. Here’s the summary:
- I do embedded literacy and numeracy professional development.
- The qualification that I teach is the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace).
- My customers are vocational tutors and trainers.
- Our business is partially funded by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).
- The TEC has recently released their latest strategy document for the field that I work in.
What I want to work out is: What does this mean for my business moving forward?
My review here is only focused on the impact of the strategy on my NCALNE (Voc) training. We also do other work in the local community in Taupo but I’ll leave that for another post.
Here are the highlights in brief:
- The strategy outlines the educational infrastructure for New Zealand, learning opportunities for adult NZers, and professional development for the sector. This includes national qualifications. This includes the NCALNE (Voc). It’s not stated, but I would add that the NCALNE (Voc) is actual the idea vehicle for transmitting the now established national infrastructure for literacy and numeracy.
- The document states that: “Recent funding changes also strengthen the requirement that the tertiary sector fully and properly embeds literacy and numeracy in all foundation-level provision.” I’m unclear at the moment how they intend to do this, but making the NCALNE (Voc) a compliance requirement for tutors would achieve this end. Tutors and organisations need clear guidance on what constitutes what we are now calling the Baseline knowledge for embedding literacy and numeracy. This knowledge is not infinite and I can summarise it on one page. It’s also hardwired into the way we deliver the NCALNE (Voc).
- The professional development of the sector “remains a key ongoing priority to ensure organisations and educators are well equipped to understand and apply best practice for the optimal benefit of their learners, especially Tertiary Education Strategy priority learner groups.” This is good to hear. Although, while the National Centre is mentioned here as a focal point and contracted deliverer of PD, this will not directly achieve the goal of credentialing trades and vocational tutors.
- I’m pleased to see that the Strategy directly identifies the need for all level 1 – 3 programmes to have embedded literacy and numeracy in essential qualifications for trades and vocations. The tutors that teach these courses are our target audience. They’re a tricky bunch. For one thing they typically don’t care about TEC Strategies or literacy and numeracy infrastructures.
- There’s mention of reduced future funding and the need for priorities in the TEC investment approach. Nothing new here. We’ve known for several years that it’s now about doing more with less.
- It’s clear that the new Youth Guarantee providers have to use the national infrastructure for literacy and numeracy. What’s not clear is how this will happen. Anecdotal evidence points to a lot of new tutors who don’t know what the Learning Progressions are. In the words of one colleague: “It’s like being back in 2007”. There’s also a huge churn factor with previously credentialed trades and vocational tutors that doesn’t seem to be addressed.
- It looks like that there are some opportunities for business to get involved in their own workplace literacy and numeracy training. It seems to be implied but not stated here that these employers will have staff able to do this work. People can always be contracted in, but it would make sense for those involved in the training to have completed the NCALNE (Voc) qualification as a prerequisite to starting training workers. I’m not sure if this is spelled out in individual contracts or not.
- There’s more on p.25 about the requirement for providers to ensure “full and proper embedding of literacy and numeracy at all levels of the organisation and in all foundation-level course provision”. However, again it seems implied that credentialed tutors will be the main means of ensuring this happens. There also needs to be a connection here to NZQA quality assurance processes as noted on p.27.
- Page 30 notes that “The workforce needs educators who are suitably qualified and can gain access to professional opportunities that forge connections, access sector leaders and research, and that promote refreshment of existing skills and further development of new skills.” This is great… But what about providers who don’t have suitably skilled educators?
- Excellent… “The TEC will investigate the viability of requiring educators in foundation-level education to hold an adult literacy and numeracy educator qualification (for example, the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational) as a condition of TEC funding.” Obviously, I have a vested interest in seeing this happen. But if I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing this post or doing the work that I do.
- Point 26 on Page 33 is particularly interesting with regards to the National Centre: “Professional development provided by the Centre will move progressively towards a multi-modal and innovative model of delivery that is linked, as far as possible, to unit standards, qualifications and other training. There is an odd tension here. This suggests that the PD provided by the centre has to align with what I do… in other words, the outcomes connected to the NCALNE (Voc) and related unit standards. But the National Centre is unlikely to want to deliver unit standards or qualifications. So, what does this mean operationally?
- Point 86 states that the TEC introduced a requirement for funding “that educators of adult literacy and numeracy be appropriately qualified. If this is already in place I don’t see the point of what I quoted in 10. above.
- Great news! “The qualifications are in place and performing well, meaning minimal TEC intervention is now required other than maintaining the available funding for Adult Literacy Education Grants. It is important that these national qualifications remain an essential pathway to adult literacy and educator jobs, and that teachers are appropriately qualified. (p.34). Thanks TEC.
Also good news here on p.34:
The TEC will investigate:
- Introducing a requirement that that all foundation-level educators, especially those engaged in adult literacy and numeracy, must hold a minimum baseline qualification (for example, the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational); and
- Establishing a national register of ‘qualified’ tertiary educators in adult literacy and numeracy as a professional body. This would enable official endorsement of tertiary educators who hold tertiary teaching qualifications and literacy qualifications, facilitate timelier up-skilling, increase the scope and credibility of the Centre, and provide revenue if registration fees are required. The TEC will explore the merits of this initiative with other government agencies and sector groups.