New BBC series to address adult literacy

26th March 2012

NIACE worked closely with the BBC on the development of Secrets and Words, following on from the independent Inquiry into Adult Literacy it led last year. The series, shown Monday 26 March – Friday 30 March on BBC One, was also accompanied by a short film about 2011 Adult Learners’ Week award winner, Sue Chapman, and her remarkable journey of learning to read.

The series was supported by BBC Skillswise which made online resources available, for both learners and tutors. An activity for each episode was created for learners, to provide them with a taster of the kind of activity they may find in a classroom and to boost their confidence and sense of achievement. For tutors, a suite of classroom resources was developed, to stimulate discussion around the issues raised by the dramas.

Sue Southwood, Programme Manager at NIACE and series consultant on Secrets and Words, said:

“NIACE is pleased to support the BBC to produce such a powerful set of dramas to raise awareness about literacy. There are still far too many people in this country coping with poor reading and writing skills that affect them on a daily basis. They are seriously disadvantaged as workers, parents and citizens.

Showing the lives of five ordinary people who, for various reasons, all share the same secret, is an inventive and original approach to reach adults who feel they are in a similar situation. This is where television proves that it’s not only entertaining, but that its influence can change lives for the better.

We know that adults who, for whatever reason, lack confidence in their reading and writing, actively avoid using their skills, thereby making the problem worse as these skills deteriorate over time. They don’t ask for help and they are embarrassed to talk about it, constantly hoping that they won’t get found out. Instead their lives are narrowed as they cannot participate in everyday activities the majority of people take for granted.

We really hope the strong messages contained in the dramas – that it’s better to ask for help and improve your skills than to suffer in silence – will inspire people to take an important and courageous step into learning. If they do, then we know they will improve their own life chances and those of their children and grandchildren.”