Adult literacies learning in Dundee

Demonstrating the impact of adult literacy learning

Adult literacies learning in Dundee

Led by: Dundee City Council CLD service


Rather than looking at one particular strand of work, as we shall in other cases, here we consider the overall impact of the adult literacy learning services led by Dundee City Council. Systematic analysis has identified and put a value on the wide range of outcomes for learners’ lives that learning helps to deliver.


More than 3,000 people take part in the Council’s Adult Learning programmes every year. The Adult Learning section is part of the Council’s Community Learning and Development provision. It sits within the Communities and Policy Division of the Chief Executive’s Department and comprises 5 teams covering the city. They work with adults of all ages to encourage people to take the first steps back into learning, and build skills and confidence. Their aim is to improve people’s life chances through learning and personal development.[1] Their priorities include providing help with reading, writing, spelling and numbers.

Recent Scottish research[2] found that 27% of the working age population demonstrate a consistent weakness in their literacies skills. Another smaller group – 1 in 28 (3.6%) of the population – have very limited literacies capabilities. This group can have extreme difficulties in their home and work lives. The research indicates that all people with poor literacies skills tend to:

·         earn less

·         work in more routine occupations

·         be unemployed or economically inactive

·         live in deprived areas 

·         face health challenges

·         have lower educational attainment.


Actions taken

Literacies learning programmes are delivered city wide in over 20 different learning centres. Programmes are provided at times and venues across the City that make them accessible to all. In 2011-2012, 1,896 adults received support with literacy and numeracy.

Adult Literacies workers use a ‘social practice model’ which is centred on the learners. Its focus is to support people to take on the opportunities available to them, address their own personal issues and progress towards meeting their own goals. Learners set their own goals and targets and, in discussion with tutors, progress towards set targets.

Partnership and strategy

The service works alongside partners in Jobcentre Plus, Social Work, NHS, Skills Development Scotland and the Voluntary Sector to meet the needs of each adult.