News archive – January-February 2015

Exploring the use of online digital resources to support family learning – webinar on 25th February

Beth Kelly and Ann McDonnell will be running a Family Learning webinar which will be showcasing the online maths resources that they developed for Learning Unlimited in partnership with NIACE. The webinar is being hosted by Adult Learning Mathematics ( ALM) and will take place on 25th February at 12.30pm. It will also be recorded and available on that site after that date.

Attendance is free and may be of interest to tutors, trainees or parents who would like to find out more about these on line resources that aimed at supporting people interested in Family Numeracy.

The webinar can be accessed from

What is multimodality and why does it matter? Webinar now available to view online

Our very own John Sutter, Director here at Learning Unlimited and Bob Read, Training & Development Adviser for ACER ran a webinar for EmCETT (East Midlands Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training) last month which was recorded and is now available to view online.

The aim of the webinar was to explore:

  • what is multi-modality?
  • why does multi-modality matter?
  • considerations when undertaking PLAR
  • next steps

The webinar (90 minutes long) can be accessed directly via this link. And supporting resources including pdfs of the sliders from the two speakers and the pre-webinar task can be found here.

Parents’ Integration through Partnership: Project wins a 2014 Outstanding for All Award

On Tuesday 9th December 2014 at Alexandra Palace , the PIP Projectfunded through the GLA (Greater London Authority) using EIF (European Integration Fund) funding – won the Supporting Sustainability Award at Haringey Council’s second Outstanding for All Awards ceremony.

The ceremony celebrated the wealth of teaching talent and excellent learning across Haringey’s schools. Learning Unlimited has been working in partnership with Welbourne Primary School and Children’s Centre, Earlsmead Primary School and Children’s Centre, and Seven Sisters Primary School and South Grove Children’s Centre through the PIP project.

Haringey PIP Co-ordinator Zoe Nation and Deputy Head of Welbourne Primary Jane Stone accept the award




Delivering online learning – NATECLA’s response to FELTAG

The aim of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) was to identify obstacles preventing further education providers taking full advantage of technology. The group’s recommendations were designed to remove these obstacles, and encourage FE providers towards the digital future expected by learners and employers.

Following extensive consultation across the sector, the FELTAG report ‘Paths Forward to a Digital Future for Education and Skills‘ was published in March 2014. Amongst other suggestions, the report put forward a 10% online delivery target for all FE provision. The government responded to the FELTAG report in June 2014 and the SFA’s response to the FELTAG recommendations was set out in October 2014.

NATECLA have now published their own response to the updates from the SFA, a short excerpt follows: “We welcome the SFA response to the 10% wholly online component of courses which was recommended in the FELTAG report. This response clarifies that there is flexibility for providers rather than insisting that all courses offer a minimum of 10% online delivery from September 2015.”

Migration conference in Rome

Our very own Karen Dudley attended the Migrant Integration before Departure:
Perspectives, Approaches and Supporting Measures conference in Rome in September. Focusing on how the integration of migrants into receiving societies can
be facilitated and supported before they leave, contributions to the workshops came from all across Europe and even as far as Canada. You can download a comprehensive report of the event here, including a synopsis of the workshop that Karen and Simon O’Donovan delivered on the TaLE project.

This article was originally published in Connect – online magazine for Homelesslink

What’s the best way to help vulnerable people earn money? – Beth Kelly

Most of us find dealing with money at best a chore and at worst positively scary. However, research  has highlighted a change in behaviour and positive impact on people in social housing who experienced some financial skills training.

The BBC Lab UK’s Big Money Test in 2013 showed that there is far more to managing your money than financial know-how. It concluded that while financial knowledge is important, our emotions play a big part in how well we manage our money. Money is linked to how we feel about power, security, love and freedom; and the test identified impulse buying as being a real challenge to financial security. Financial skills also involve a certain level of maths ability, and this can just add to feelings of uncertainty about teaching this subject – never mind learning about it! This is undoubtedly why many people steer clear of working in this area.

The best time to engage people in developing their financial skills

So, we know that many support workers, teachers and trainers – as well as the participants on financial literacy programmes – have mixed feelings about money and finances. Indeed, many of us do not want to think about money until something significant happens in our lives. Shaun Mundy, Senior Vice President of the Financial Literacy Group, researched the topic and found that people are most interested in developing financial capability skills only when something changes in their lives. For example: When starting or losing a job, starting a course at college, dealing with a debt or becoming a parent.

These can be described as ‘significant moments’. One such significant moment in many peoples’ lives is the proposed introduction of Universal Credit. Eventually, this will change the way benefits are paid, presenting at least two challenges: First, people will be paid monthly instead of weekly; and second, they will be paid through a bank account rather than in cash through the Post Office. In response to this significant moment, The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has worked with Homeless Link and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) to develop a Talking about Money tool. As the name suggests, this tool is designed to encourage advisers and their clients to start talking more openly about money. It asks a series of questions and invites the client to rate their own levels of confidence and competence. This enables clients to address these challenges and empowers them to make more informed choices and decisions in relation to their circumstances.


How can we help adults with serious numeracy issues to manage money?

There is obviously no quick fix for this, but at Learning Unlimited we have developed a range of online resources that clients and support workers can use with their clients. The online activities, games and videos are aimed at people who may not have strong numeracy skills, but who want to develop their financial skills.

The resources at support adults to develop calculating skills around ‘money coming in’ and ‘money going out’. One example is showing people how to budget over the course of a month, rather than for just a week or two. The activity requires people to plan for a month by allocating money to four ‘pots’: Rent, bills, groceries and travel. There is also a ‘rainy day’ pot for what is left over.

There are hints and tips, such as how to plan expenditure for a month over five weeks, rather than four (to make sure you do not run out of money – as most months have more than four weeks in them!). There is also a check function that allows for variable amounts to be put into the ‘groceries/travel’ and ‘rainy day’ pots, but always requires the rent to be paid. To add a sense of authenticity to this activity, we filmed ‘vox pops’ of people from Homeless link and the CAB giving tips on budgeting. The ‘Everyday Maths’ section of the site also has lots of exercises about keeping appointments and working out time – as well as looking at food labels. The resources do not solve all financial problems, but do give people opportunities to practise some skills in relation to employment and benefits.

New initiatives in this sector

As part of a new initiative funded by The Insolvency Service (BIS), we are supporting organisations working with vulnerable people to develop some financial literacy programmes linked to the new unit qualifications. However, some of the project’s early findings indicate that, unsurprisingly, it is not easy to develop new programmes with centres already running on limited resources. Many simply don’t have staff with the requisite skills to support financial capability. In addition to this, Universal Credit – a main motivator for initiating this pilot – has had its timetable for introduction changed, creating uncertainty around the need for skills development.

Despite these challenges, it is worth making the effort. The recent Quids In study (undertaken by the CAB and Santander) highlighted a change in behaviour and positive impact on people in social housing who experienced some financial skills training.

At this Universal Credit ‘significant moment’, there is considerable interest in developing people’s financial skills – and there are some very good tools out there to help with the learning needed. However, there will need to be enough investment to upskill the people involved, in order to make sure we provide the claimants and support workers with the skills they require to successfully access the new benefits.

Available at