The Rules for Embedding Literacy and Numeracy

Increasing specialisation in adult education and the field of adult literacy and numeracy education means that we can be quite specific about what works.


Here’s a brief summary of the overarching rules for embedding literacy and numeracy into trades and vocational training with some questions to get you thinking:

  1. Understand your context: What are your training objectives? Who are your learners? What’s the wide context for your trade? Why do your learners struggle with certain skills? What’s the impact of this?
  2. Understand the basics of adult teaching and learning: What do you know about how adults learn? What are some basic principles of adult teaching and learning? What methods and approaches are relevant for your learners and context?
  3. Know the demands: What are the specific literacy and numeracy demands of your training? Do you have any kind of overarching system or framework to work from here? Have you mapped your training tasks, texts, and job demands?
  4. Know your learners: What are the specific literacy and numeracy needs of your particular learners? How do you know? What specific literacy and numeracy diagnostic tools and processes do you use? What external or nationally mandated tools do you use? What tools and processes have you created yourself? Do you use literacy and numeracy focused learning plans to help learners negotiate and create specific learning goals?
  5. Know what to do: Can you write and deliver highly targeted embedded literacy and numeracy learning outcomes with laser-like precision? What resources and activities have you created and used to develop and strengthen learners’ literacy and numeracy skills? Can you articulate the differences between what you learners ought to be able to do versus what they can actually do using clear language that other educators can understand and act on?
  6. Measure  progress: Can you say with any degree of confidence what your learners have actually learned with regards to the specific literacy and numeracy skills that you are trying to develop? Have you measured where your learners were at both before and after you intervened with your highly considered and explicit embedded literacy and numeracy activities? Could you report to others on the longer term gains of your learners? What tools are you using to do this?
  7. Evaluate your embedded literacy and numeracy interventions: Do you regularly stop and take stock of what you are doing? Do you really know what is working effectively and what is not? What do your learners think? Have you sat down with your supervisor or manager to discuss how you are strengthening learners literacy and numeracy skills? What do your learners need to do next? What do you need to do next?


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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