learning and the demonstration of learning. Specialist communication teachers need training in identifying these literacies. Mechanisms need to be put into place to allow subject specialists to work with communication specialists at all levels including policy, materials development, college management, and classroom practice, to ensure that the literacy practices in which students engage on their courses facilitate learning instead of hindering it. In addition, communication specialists need to be able to identify the literacy practices that students bring with them from their everyday lives, and to mobilise these as resources for learning on their courses.
Development of literacies through purposeful activities
While the focus of the LfLFE project is on the role of literacies in enhancing learning in further education, its findings are relevant to policy and practice for literacy development itself. The literacy practices in which students are engaging on their courses, particularly those which include work placements or work based learning, are purposeful uses of reading and writing and can, in turn, support literacy development. By participating in meaningful activities, students have the opportunity to undertake the reading and writing which is required by those activities, and hence gradually develop their competence in them.
The implication is that the full range of curriculum areas can help develop communications capabilities, without needing a separate ‘Communication Skills’ curriculum. Communication specialists could be members of vocational, academic and recreational curriculum area teams and would act as consultants, teach in teams and teach explicit awareness of the literacies which are being developed through use. English Language and Literature can then be curriculum areas in their own right.
Assessment of literacies through purposeful tasks
The project has found that in the assessment of literacy capabilities, literacy tends to be decontextualised or at best simulated. While the Key Skills portfolios are admirable in principle, in practice their requirements are based on a view of literacy which originates in the context of school rather than those of everyday life or work. For example, at Level 2 there is a requirement to include a piece of writing of approximately 500 words in the portfolio. This might be appropriate for A Level Media Studies, where continuous writing of about 500 words is an organic part of the course. On a Catering and Hospitality course, however, there is no context for such a piece of writing, so the task has to be invented. However, there are a multitude of extremely demanding real life literacy practices in Catering and Hospitality which would be more suitable for demonstrating the student’s competence.
Pointers for Practice