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A new report into the Government's "Skills for Life Strategy" praises its capacity for attracting learners but exposes fundamental problems with provision across the FE sector.

The report, published this week by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), suggests that there is a serious shortage of teachers qualified to teach literacy, numeracy and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). More worryingly, it claims that a "one size fits all" approach to teacher training means that a significant number of trainers and vocational tutors lack the basic skills they are meant to impart to learners.

While standards of provision have been maintained, and progress has been made, Ofsted insists that it is not enough. The report concludes that a fifth of all literacy and numeracy provision in General Further Education Colleges is unsatisfactory, and that there has been a marked decline in the standard of English provision for speakers of foreign languages. In Independent Specialist Colleges more than half of all literacy and numeracy provision has been unsatisfactory for the past two years.

Ofsted Director of Education Miriam Rosen called for drastic measures to ensure that adults gain the basic skills many of us take for granted. In the statement, she said: "It is essential that this problem does not continue and that adult learners get the same high standard of education that we expect everywhere else. The Government has made a great deal of progress in tackling this problem by introducing initiatives and funding. But more needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly."

Joe Paget

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