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Information, advice and guidance for Skills for Life practitioners

Professional Development
Skills for Life Network

Materials to help provide IAG to Skills for Life staff

Advising literacy, numeracy and ESOL practitioners about professional development options is complex.

The Learning and Skills sector has experienced successive waves of changes to regulations for teacher/tutor/trainer qualifications since 2000, with further changes as part of the DfES reform agenda for 2007. Staff in the sector have a whole range of qualification histories due to the variable nature of initial teacher training and professional development during the 1980s and 1990s.


Factors to be considered in advising a teacher on professional development options

Multiple factors influence the options available through APL and CPD to help an individual teacher decide on their best course of action.

Relevant factors to take into account will include:

  • Date of beginning to teach in the Learning and Skills sector
  • Subject-specific or subject-rich previous qualifications e.g. degree or A-levels in maths, English, languages or linguistics
  • Previous teaching qualifications and dates achieved
  • Length of experience in teaching
  • Timing and location of teacher education and professional development courses available within practical reach, and
  • The details of the APL/APEL/APA procedures on offer at the teacher training institution.


Teacher education reforms 2007/8

The agenda for the reform of teacher education for the learning and skills sector was published by DfES in 2004. Much of the detail of the post-reform environment remains to be confirmed but is expected to include:

  • the formal creation of QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills) status, similar to that of QTS for pre-16 education
  • registration of qualified professionals with the Institute for Learning (IfL), which has a similar function to that of the GTC
  • the expectation that all qualified professionals will undertake regular CPD activity which will be recorded on an ongoing basis at IfL
  • new professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers to encompass both ITE and CPD
  • a national framework of professional standards within which ITE and CPD options will be located.


Vocational teachers do not have to become LLN teachers

Vocational teachers need to teach their own subject areas in ways that support learners in achieving their vocational goals. It is not necessary for vocational teachers to become specialist teachers of literacy, language and numeracy, though they will need strategies for facilitating learners’ literacy, language and numeracy development within their vocational learning.

Some vocational teachers may additionally wish to undertake qualifications based on the level 3 subject specifications in either literacy, numeracy or ESOL. It is unlikely, though, that a vocational teacher would have the time or the inclination to take all three of the qualifications in literacy, numeracy and ESOL which would be needed to cover the breadth of Skills for Life learners in vocational provision. Vocational teachers need to work in collaboration with their Skills for Life specialist colleagues to ensure that learners’ literacy, language and numeracy needs are fully diagnosed and catered for.


This guidance is taken from a document prepared as part of the Skills for Life Quality Initiative – ‘Guidance on CPD framework and on specialist information, advice and guidance (IAG) for Skills for Life practitioners‘. The full document can be found in the Training Resources section of the Skills for Life Quality Initiative website. This section also includes materials to support the provision of specialist IAG for Skills for Life practitioners.


Lifelong Learning UK Helpline is a free service offering specialist advice on all areas of the lifelong learning sector,including:

  • teaching adult literacy, numeracy or ESOL
  • qualifications needed
  • financial incentives
  • teacher training and CPD

If the FAQs section on their website doesn’t answer your questions then you can phone the Helpline on 020 7936 5798 between 9am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday or email


In addition there are three useful booklets, published by the DfES, looking at the qualification needed by:
Existing Skills for Life Teachers‘ ROUTEMAP-ET
New Specialist Skills for Life Teachers‘ ROUTEMAP – NT
those ‘Supporting Skills for Life Learning‘ ROUTEMAP – SL

The booklets are available from Prolog tel 0845 60 222 60 or email

Further Information

No further information

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