What are we talking about?

When we talk about English we’re talking about spelling, punctuation and grammar in written work, but also Communication skills, such as listening, following instructions, discussing issues in group etc.  As for maths, it is more than sums. We’re talking about recognising patterns, and using logic to solve problems.

The Common Inspection Framework clearly states that teaching, learning and assessment in ACL should support learners to develop their skills in English, mathematics and ICT (EM&IT). Ofsted’s judgment on this forms part of judgment for Quality of Teaching Learning and Assessment in inspections.

“How do I embed English and Maths in my course?”

The question needs to be: what English, Maths and IT skills do my learners need so that they can do really well on this course?

If you reflect on the subject you are teaching there will be many areas where the learners’ level of English, Maths and IT will have an impact on their success.

For example:

In cookery courses, are learners familiar with different weights?

In art, are they aware of the shapes and relationships between them?

In childcare, do they understand the specific, specialised terminology?

In languages, are learners familiar with grammatical terms?

In most subjects using Google, and being able to search the internet effectively will add to the classroom learning.

It will be useful to review your course and make a note on the scheme of work wherever English, Maths or IT skills will be needed.  If you make a note on the scheme of work this will be clear to an observer that YOU know what English, Maths and ICT needs to be embedded, and you will have a checklist.

Now, which of these are skills that often need to be developed? You may want to build EM&IT into your initial assessment activities at the start of the course.  A good ILP should have a question asking what support needs each learner needs, but you may want to add to this with an activity based on the course content.

Then, you need to find time in your sessions to raise awareness of the EM&IT skills and plan specific activities to practice skills where necessary.  It may simply be something you can do very quickly, or it might require more planned time initially, but in either case, it is sure to lead to better quality work in the longer term, and clearer learner progression.  You might want to add a column to your session plan to make notes on EM&IT, or use a different colour to highlight activities.

“I remind learners to measure accurately to check their estimates of measurements.”

“I give my learners a glossary to check spellings of key terminology.”

“When I ask learners to research children’s medical problems online we discuss searching the internet and using reliable websites.”

Some tutors feel reluctant to correct spellings, but if this is relevant to your learners, and they are told at the beginning of the course that the sessions will also help them develop their writing, they will be happy for this to happen, and more likely to appreciate the chance to improve in a supportive environment. You can also look at tools to help learners correct themselves eg glossaries, word processing, or peer marking.

“I tell learners at the beginning that we will be developing their English and they are happy when I correct their spellings.”

Formative feedback: obviously as a tutor you should comment on progress in English and Maths and IT when you make formative comments in learning plans, and verbally to learners.

And what do inspectors notice? Here are some comments from recent Ofsted reports of ACL providers:

“…Tutors’ integration of the development of learner’ English and mathematics skills, in the majority of lessons, is very good. One example is encouraging learners to focus on the use of shapes when drawing animals and birds.  Tutors place a strong focus on developing learners’ ability to use subject-specific terminology correctly in, for example, ICT and adult social care courses.”

 “Learners develop their English and Mathematics skills through their main course and they can achieve unit accreditation.”

“learners develop excellent literacy and numeracy skills and teachers integrate English and mathematics very successfully in lessons.”

 “occasionally tutors did not highlight or identify spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors…”

“ a few jointly observed sessions demonstrated insufficient embedding of Mathematics…”

Here are some other resources and websites of interest:










Other training and CPD opportunities


Check out these e-learning / online modules for some interesting CPD opportunities.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/understanding-language – CPD for teaching languages

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/blended-learning-getting-started – some inspiration for ILT use

http://mhfe.org.uk/content/understanding-anxiety-depression-and-cbt – follow–on from our Mental Health Awareness training


this is the new website for The Learning and Work Institute (which has replaced NIACE) – always worth keeping an eye on their resources and updates.

Please feed back to us when you do a course so we know if it’s worth recommending in future!










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