New research centre will help address low levels of English and maths

8th April 2014

NIACE is looking forward to working with the new Behavioural Insights Research Centre for Maths and English, which has been announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The new Centre will ‘deliver an ambitious programme of research, exploring how behavioural science can help improve adult literacy and numeracy and how this can be scaled up and applied by UK government policy makers’.


David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:


“This announcement is very welcome and shows that the Government is serious about supporting more adults to improve their skills. All of the work which NIACE has carried out over the years has shown us that adults need the basics of English, maths and IT skills to be able to function fully in our society, to gain jobs with prospects and to be part of their communities, as well as to support their families. Too many young people leave the school system without those basic skills in place and their life chances consequently suffer.


“A deeper understanding of the different and new approaches which are needed to be able to persuade and motivate people to face the challenge of learning new skills will be invaluable. We know that people with maths and English difficulties have differing needs, and therefore need different starting points, different engagement strategies and differing progression routes. Setting up this research centre in partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team will help us to design learning and education to match those differing needs.


“The annual NIACE participation survey shows that those adults who are not as successful in school learning are less likely to carry on learning throughout their lives. We have always known that many people need persuading or nudging into learning as adults. When they do, as our Adult Learners’ Week winners show every year, they can transform their lives and the lives of those around them.


“I am looking forward to working with the new Centre, to build on the work NIACE and others have done to move our thinking forward. Our recent Inquiry into Family Learning showed great examples of nudging people back into learning. We know that some simple steps by a school can be hugely motivational for parents to overcome the emotional and practical barriers adults face. It will be great to understand how other solutions might be used to tap into the motivation of adults.”