Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Basic Skills Agency

Last week saw the passing of an era with the incorporation of the English side of the Basic Skills Agency into NIACE. I had noticed that the BSA had launched a new website recently, while some of their project sites and the Observatory had disappeared. The Wales sites are so far unaffected. I have tried to reflect these changes on the Background page.

NIACE and Tribal have formed the Alliance for Lifelong Learning to work in the "field of literacy, language and numeracy to form the country's leading concentration of expertise across all age ranges." So says the NIACE news report. It remains to be seen what this means in practice.

The BSA grew out of ALBSU which formed an important part of my learning to be a basic skills practitioner. In the Eighties their training was central to many of us developing practice in London and probably in other parts of the country as well. In the early nineties I managed an ALBSU funded Open Learning Centre and was impressed by the commitment to innovation in practice. Things were changing though; ALBSU became the BSA, the training element declined in quality and was eventually discarded, the BSA became involved in schools, the tone became more authoritarian "this is the way to do things", the New Labour Government established ReadWrite+, and the BSA became less relevant. Last year saw the departure of Alan Wells who had been at the helm since before my own interest. Where next? Who knows?


I have added some more links on Maths Activities to the excellent Gordons numeracy activities. I added a first batch a few months ago, but had always been aware that there were more that were useful. I have tried to concentrate on learners working towards E3, L1 or L2 as these are my core audience. Gordons generally aim to develop mental maths skills, such as subtraction with a number line and halving and doubling. It is worthwhile looking through the whole suite and seeing what is useful for your own teaching.

These activities can be used in different ways. Many will work best on a projector - they are designed as interactive whiteboard activities - and these can also be used one to one, which is how I use them. Some allow for answer entry and so could be used for individual work under supervision. I would hope that any numeracy classroom in a college would have a projector attached to the internet these days, but I know from experience how far this is from the truth.