Changing faces of adult literacy, language and numeracy: a critical history

M Hamilton, Yvonne Hillier

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authoredpeer-review


The Skills for Life strategy in England has directed much attention towards developing professional practice for teaching basic skills to adults. How did this practice begin and who was involved in its creation? Which practices have survived from the early days and how have they affected the field as it is today? This book examines the key moments in the history of adult literacy, numeracy and language, identifying the levers of change. It draws together lessons learnt from practitioners and policymakers, and the views expressed by adult learners and others just entering adulthood at the time of the 1975 Right to Read campaign. Timelines help illustrate the main themes – such as assessment, publicity and changing technologies – that have informed the last three decades of basic skills practice. Stories from people involved in the field point up good practice, as do examples of materials, documents and student writing which exemplify the changing culture and ethos of basic skills. The book provides the context and critical history to guide practitioners who are working towards their national qualifications in teaching basic skills. It is also for researchers and professionals in the field who wish to gain a deeper understanding of their professional practice. It will illuminate this ever enlarging, student-centred field.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTrentham Books
Number of pages208
ISBN (Print)1858563488
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • basic skills
  • adult literacy
  • adult numeracy
  • adult language
  • right to read


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