English, Maths & Digital

In the UK around 1 in 6 adults still struggle with reading and writing, and around 1 in 4 adults still find maths difficult.

Currently 90% of jobs need at least basic computer skills, but international research shows that around one half of adults in England and Northern Ireland lack the basic skills to effectively use computers.

English, maths, digital and other related skills are crucial for people to succeed in work, helping people find work and earn more. They also contribute to their wider lives, including increasing the likelihood of people being active in their community, and economic growth.

However, the number of adults taking English and maths courses each year has fallen significantly in recent years. At current rates, it would take decades to address the challenge of poor basic skills.

Our work is focused on how to widen access to these skills, as well as improving the range and quality of provision. We need to design new approaches that engage people and trial new approaches to delivering basic skills. We argue this requires more investment to create more opportunities to learn, and recognising these skills are inter-related and made more accessible by being contextualised and integrated.

  • Research and Reports 28 02 2017

    Vocational Maths Mentors

    A guide for instructional officers and maths mentors on embedding maths in vocational workshops. It can be used by prison governors, heads of learning and skills, industry managers and instructional officers, education staff, and others.
  • Research and Reports 28 02 2017

    English, maths and digital in traineeships and apprenticeships: Case studies

    Effective practice in the delivery of English, maths and digital skills across a range of traineeship and/or apprenticeship providers, particularly for LDD/disabilities.
  • Research and Reports 21 12 2016

    Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - Benefits, Opportunities and Challenges

    The aim was to improve and enhance the learner experience, including assistive technologies that improve access for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
  • Research and Reports 28 03 2016


    Mentors were trained and provided with learning activities booklets and equipment so that they could promote maths learning and provide one-to-one support to other prisoners.
  • Research and Reports 28 02 2015

    Maths Everywhere app

    The app is free to download for Android and Apple phones and available online. Maths Everywhere has three different sections offering helpful tools, video tutorials and practice questions to help adults improve their skills and become more confident.
  • Research and Reports 21 02 2015

    Engaging Learners in GCSE English and Maths

    It is hard to underestimate the importance for our society of helping young people to become proficient in maths and English. They are a gateway to further learning, to work, to being an active citizen and to being a lifelong learner.
  • Research and Reports 28 02 2013

    Helpful approaches to the delivery of English and maths provision for unemployed adults

    This review was primarily aimed at skills providers and referral agencies but will also prove useful for funders and policy makers.
  • Research and Reports 28 06 2012

    Armed Forces Basic Skills Longitudinal Study

    The study shows how a large employer has successfully put English and maths at the heart of support for the development of the skills of its staff.
  • Research and Reports 28 09 2011

    Work, Society and Lifelong Literacy: Report of the Inquiry into Adult Literacy in England

    Ten years after the introduction of the Skills for Life Strategy an independent inquiry was held into the state of adult literacy in England.

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