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The Basic Skills Agency

As a registered charity, the Basic Skills Agency's principle objective is to promote and advance education for the benefit of the public and in particular to improve standards of literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

The Agency is responsible for the development and design of training provision in basic skills throughout England and Wales. Increased proficiency in basic skills will result in better opportunities for education, training and employment. The Agency defines basic skills as "the ability to read, write and speak in English/Welsh and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general".

The Agency's vision is to significantly reduce the number of children, young people and adults with poor basic skills, to facilitate high quality, diverse learning opportunities available to all, to support innovative developments that inform and improve practice in basic skills provision.

Government policy on the dispersal of refugees and asylum seekers across the country has meant that many organisations with little experience of working with people from linguistic minority backgrounds are taking responsibility for their learning and other needs.

The Agency aims to contribute to the ASSET UK project by developing and disseminating a model for English Language programmes that contribute to the social and vocational integration of asylum seekers. To achieve this the Agency shall establish two National Demonstration Projects based in dispersal areas, which will

  • Develop and deliver intensive English language programmes within the context of

    • orientation to living and working in the UK

    • job seeking skills

    • working in specific sectors (such as the Hospitality or the Construction industry)

  • Provide training and consultancy for organisations offering ESOL and/or vocational training to asylum seekers and refugees. This programme will entail advisory visits to organisations to include

    • Teaching observation and feedback

    • Training sessions for groups of staff

    • Demonstration teaching at the project base

    • Seminars on the delivery of employability related ESOL programmes

    • The development of a pack that will guide providers through the process of developing and delivering vocationally related language programmes.

  • Develop and publish curricula and associated materials which enhance the employability of asylum seekers through teaching English Language skills specific to job seeking and working in particular occupational areas.

    • Models of short intensive courses with the supporting teaching and learning materials, in paper based and ICT formats.
      Course outlines and multimedia materials to underpin citizenship and work orientation programmes.

    • Staff development to build the capacity of other organisations to develop and deliver employment related programmes for individuals with limited proficiency in English.

    • Development of citizenship/orientation materials to be published in CD-ROM format for newly- arrived asylum seekers.

    • Regular update on a dedicated page on the Agency's website

The UK Asylum Seekers Development Partnership - ASSET UK is part funded by the European Social Fund under the Equal Community Initiative Programme.