College pioneers new route to adult literacy

City of Glasgow College has designed a City and Guilds Accredited programme which offers a fresh approach to teaching adults to read and write.

City Phonics is a ground-breaking commercial course designed for adults with severe literacy issues, those with dyslexia, non-native English speakers and reluctant readers.

Launching the new programme, Diane Gardner, a senior lecturer at City of Glasgow College, and responsible for producing City Phonics, said:

“The best thing in the world is to be able to read and write. And everyone is required to read and write at work. But 3.6% of Scottish adults - that’s one person in 28 – are unable to progress because of their lack of literacy skills.

“We are the only college running this type of course which I designed because there has been nothing available throughout the UK for teaching adults how to read and write. This course is based on the successful synthetic phonics approach utilised in schools and it offers a first step in literacy for the lowest level of adult learners.”

City Phonics blends sounds to create words, linking them with images, advancing from simple to difficult words in order to construct sentences. It’s for individuals interested in improving literacy levels, employability skills or basic English-language learning and teaching.

The launch event was aimed at raising awareness amongst Scotland’s other colleges and training institutions who may wish to run the course. There was an information session plus discussion about the latest developments in adult learning; an opportunity to network and a taster training session run by Diane.

Key speakers included Marion Allison, Head of CLD Standards Council Scotland; Frances Bradley, Learning Services Coordinator for Glasgow Life, Jackie Howie from Learning Link Scotland and Louise McGinley, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist at Leverndale Hospital.

New College Lanarkshire, Glasgow Clyde and Glasgow Kelvin were among the colleges who attended, along with University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), College Development Network, City & Guilds, as well as a number of charities and organisations from the third and voluntary sectors.

Gary Woolton from City & Guilds works with colleges, public sector and education establishments to help them gain external recognition for in-house developed training. He said:

“We are excited to have been able to accredit this programme and look forward to seeing it grow.”

The City Phonics course runs for one year for two hours a week. Achieving the accredited qualification will prepare students for SCQF Level 2 English and Communication; Essential Skills Entry Level Literary (England and Northern Ireland) and Essential Skills Level 1 (Wales).

Colleges and training institutions interested in running the course themselves should contact Shannon Farrell, Business Development Officer at City of Glasgow College, and one of the keynote speakers at the launch event.