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BSQI 2000-2003: End of project report


Basic Skills Quality Initiative Training and development programme 2000-2003

Basic Skills Quality Initiative 

Training and development 

programme 2000-2003

End of project report

December 2003

Funded through the Quality and Standards 

Directorate of the Learning and Skills Council


BSQI 2000-2003: End of project report


BSQI 2000-2003: End of project report

Introduction and background


The AoC process


The training model for the residential events


Main messages from the events


One-day events 


Prison education events


Other BSQI strands of activity


Examples of good practice influenced by the BSQI


Annex A: Acknowledgements


Annex B: Pen portraits of tutor team


Annex C: Evaluation form and statistics


Annex D: Event schedule


The Basic Skills Quality Initiative (BSQI) has been a major area 

of focus for the standards fund since it was established by the

Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) in 1999. The initiative

was the FEFC’s response to the Moser Report and inspectorate

findings. When Skills for Life was published in March 2001, 

we worked with partners including the Association of Colleges

to re-focus BSQI and ensure it supported the national strategy.

We continue to do this, most recently through announcing the

LSC’s Skills for Life Quality Initiative, which provides a continuum

of career and professional development opportunities through

the leadership and management programme and the programme

of professional development for teachers.

The BSQI Training and Development Programme, delivered on our behalf by the

Association of Colleges, has been a key part of BSQI. The role of managers in

improving the quality of literacy, numeracy and language provision is crucial. 

The programme provided an opportunity for groups of managers to take part in a

residential training event that included updates on national developments, advice on

action planning and not least an opportunity to network and share good practice with

others in the sector. As confirmed in this report, over 1800 members of staff from over

800 LSC-funded providers have taken part over the past three years and the feedback

from participants is that the events have been valued. 

Our thanks to the Association of Colleges’ project team for their hard work and

commitment and to all the participants for the knowledge and enthusiasm they

brought to the events.

The challenge for all in the sector is to continue the drive for improvement, working

locally, regionally and nationally to deliver the targets in Skills for Life. Nationally the

LSC will continue to work with the Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit and key project

partners like the Association of Colleges to meet this aim.

Emer Clarke

Director, Quality Evaluation and Strategy





BSQI 2000-2003: End of project report


BSQI 2000-2003: End of project report

During the same period 51% of literacy lessons and 46% of numeracy lessons received

grades 1 or 2. In particular there was too little exciting and imaginative teaching of

basic skills. There was also not enough information on what constitutes good practice

and how it could be replicated in other provisions. 

As might be expected in the light of the small number of outstanding grades awarded

in inspections, too little of the work that was going on in literacy and numeracy was

particularly innovative or creative. Many examples, however, of sound and effective

work were identified, carried out by capable but often overstretched staff. Examples

of good practice included the employment of all qualified staff, all staff receiving an

induction, staff development programmes, basic skills teaching staff vacancies not

covered by other college staff with light timetables, lesson observations to ensure and

promote quality, and the variety of teaching styles used. Almost all the examples of

good practice identified focused, however, on what colleges and teachers do, not on

how much learners’ basic skills improve as a result.

With this in mind, and building on established good practice from the successful

Inclusive Learning Quality Initiative, the FEFC established a three-stage project

designed to improve adult literacy and numeracy skills and to help in meeting the

PSA target. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) was included in the

project at a later stage.

The initial aims of the BSQI were to: 

Increase the numbers of learners participating in literacy and numeracy courses

Improve the standards and quality of literacy and numeracy provision 

Improve the experience of learners

Improve retention and achievement rates for literacy and numeracy learners

Improve people’s capacity to work and progress in education and employment

There were three stages to the initiative:

The production of the BSQI materials 

The recruitment and training of facilitators

The training and development programme 

Together these stages were intended to enable providers to work individually and on

their own behalf to develop their capacity to deliver high-quality basic skills provision.

The BSQI materials were available both in printed form and on the internet. 

The report by the Moser groupImproving Literacy and Numeracy:

A Fresh Start, which was published in 1998, highlighted the fact

that 7 million adults in England had problems with literacy and

numeracy. Tackling this became a Government priority. 

In March 2001, the Prime Minister launched Skills for Life: a

national strategy to improve adult literacy and numeracy. 

To implement the strategy the Government has set an interim

Public Service Agreement (PSA) target of 750,000 learners who

will have improved their literacy or numeracy skills by 2004.

This target has been revised to 1.5 million adults who will have

improved their literacy and numeracy skills by 2007. An initial

target (since updated) was set with the aim of reducing the

number of adults with numeracy needs by 750,000 by 2004.

Different public bodies picked up the challenge of trying to meet

the need for a 100% increase in current literacy and numeracy

provision, among them the Further Education Funding 

Council (FEFC).

In 1999-2000 the FEFC committed £350,000 to establishing the Basic Skills Quality

Initiative (BSQI) and to the early stages of gathering current practice material from

providers. In April 2001 the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) came into being and

continued to fund the initiative, in the light of a mission that clearly states its

commitment to improving the literacy and numeracy skills of adults. A further £3.5

million was subsequently allocated to support the BSQI. 

There were a range of motivations for change. Basic skills, as it was then, while a very

significant component of many colleges’ curriculum, was not always given the

prominence or recognition it deserved. Many staff were working on a part-time basis,

often to meet the needs of the part-time delivery of the subject, and it was impossible

to do initial teacher training which majored on basic skills. There was a view that

staffing should be offered a professional route into this complex area of delivery and

that basic skills should gain greater recognition as a very significant and important

area of learning.

As well as the Moser group’s findings the FEFC took into account what had been

learned from the inspection of numeracy and literacy in colleges in setting up the BSQI.

Inspection showed that, although the overall quality of literacy and numeracy provision

nationally was satisfactory, there was too little excellent or very good teaching. In 

1999-2000, 62% of all lessons inspected in colleges were awarded a grade 1 or grade 2. 

Introduction and background

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