Phonics / Approaches to the development of language and literacy for maths and vocational learners

Kirsty Powell (mentor)

The teams at Haringey ALS, Islington ACL, Macclesfield College and Education and Training Collective were open-minded and worked creatively to find solutions to the problems they saw their learners having.

Haringey Adult Learning Service extended the work of their OTLA 6 project using phonics to support their English classes. All lessons were delivered online. They discovered how the use of audio and embedded phonics can help their ESOL and Functional Skills English learners to be more independent and make progress in reading and writing.

Islington Adult Community Learning have a new way of working which should lead to many more adults being able to read fluently and spell with confidence by the time they complete their courses. They tested the use of That Reading Thing, a linguistic phonics literacy intervention for teens and adults, in one-to-one sessions with Entry Level 2 literacy learners during the COVID-19 pandemic, both online and face to face. It demonstrated that adults with reading and spelling challenges made more progress using this approach than they would normally see in a group class context.

Macclesfield College gained new insights into the best ways to support learners studying Functional Skills maths and to raise their confidence, competence and achievement in this subject.  They worked with learners to identify what presented the challenge and barriers when completing Functional Skills maths questions. They then developed strategies to overcome the barriers with learners and make these strategies available to a wider audience.

Education and Training Collective demonstrated the incredible progress learners can make with their reading and spelling when English and vocational teams work collaboratively. They built on work previously undertaken by English and maths teachers using phonics-based approaches to improve learners’ English skills in OTLA 6 and extended their work to include vocational teachers and their learners. Vocational teachers at the college were introduced to phonics-based approaches and were encouraged and supported in using them to enhance their learners’ vocational literacy.

Collaboration, amongst teachers and with learners, was at the heart of these projects and it was my great pleasure to work with the teams as they carried out their action research. Their determination to listen to their learners and make appropriate adjustments, to ensure the best possible learning experience in their organisations, was wonderful and will be of benefit to not only their learners, but to the wider sector. I hope that others will enjoy hearing about their work as much as I did.

Watch the group presentations at the final dissemination event by clicking play (to the right).

Access their full reports below.

Phonics in the vocational classroom

Education and Training Collective

Project Number: 22b