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Significant factors and events in the evolution of adult literacy policy and practice from the 1970s to the Moser Committee

Significant factors and events in the evolution of adult literacy policy and practice from the 1970s to the Moser Committee

Ade-Ojo, Gordon O. ORCID: 0000-0002-1098-0765 (2008) Significant factors and events in the evolution of adult literacy policy and practice from the 1970s to the Moser Committee. EdD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This study was designed to trace the significant factors that informed the evolution of adult literacy policy from the 1970s to 2000. The study proceeded on the premise that factors have continued to change not only because of the changing social environment but also in line with developments within overarching educational policies.

The study, with a focus on process rather than product analysis, established a preference for the qualitative approach to research on the basis of its alignment to the social theory of literacy and employed methods including interviews, electronic questionnaire and documentary analysis, to collect data at three levels. The first consisted of as many members of the Moser Committee as would consent to being interviewed (8). A second group of ten individuals who were practitioners in the 1970s and 1980s, but who now have different roles ranging from involvement in research to management, were also interviewed. Lastly, data were collected through the use of an online questionnaire which was based on 65 responses from current practitioners to find their perception of the impact of policy on practice.

The study establishes that influential factors in the evolution of policy changed from the themes of entitlement and social responsibility which were dominant up to the mid-1970s, to the themes of the economy, the labour market and international competitiveness from the late 1980s onwards. These latter themes were found to be particularly significant in the deliberations of the Moser Committee which produced the most recent strategy on adult literacy. Also, the study confirmed that a focus on UK-wide perceived skills needs rather than the needs of individual learners was primary in the deliberations of the Moser Committee. Furthermore, it identified conflicting allegiances among members of the Moser Committee and that the SfL agenda the Committee produced was a product of compromises on many aspects of the Committee’s deliberations. Finally, the study recorded that a majority of practitioners responding to the questionnaire held negative perceptions of the agenda and that, like some members of the committee, they compromised their paradigmatic inclinations in implementing the dictates of the SfL agenda. The study concludes that literacy policy after the mid- 1970s was largely informed by a perception that poor literacy was the cause and remedy of social dysfunctions rather than being just a symptom of them.

Finally, the study makes a number of recommendations to practitioners, policy makers, awarding bodies for literacy qualifications and teacher trainers. Central to these recommendations is the development of literacy curricula for specific purposes. The study argues that the development of such curricula will enable practitioners, funders and awarding bodies to be accommodated within the same framework of literacy delivery. This recommendation is also central to the professional development of the researcher, as it is seen as relevant in his twin professional roles of literacy teacher and teacher educator.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: adult literacy, 1970s, education policy,
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education
School of Education > Department of Lifelong Learning & Teacher Education
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2019 13:39

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