Management in the context of adult basic education has a number of dimensions. Managers are responsible for planning, managing people, administration and accountability in line with the values and ethos of adult basic education. It is important that the management style should reflect the guiding principles, and management committees should include the manager or organiser, students, tutors and other involved groups or individuals.
The management structure will vary according to the context in which the adult literacy work takes place.
ETB Adult Literacy Service
In a local ETB Adult Literacy Service, the manager is usually the Adult Literacy Organiser (ALO) working in conjunction with a management committee and reporting to senior ETB management. The ALO must be aware of the strengths and needs of the local community. The role requires vision and skills in working and planning with others to meet these needs effectively.
Other education and training settings
In other settings the manager may be responsible for running a training centre, further education college, community development or local education project that provides a wide range of courses and activities. There is also the Distance Learning Service which is run by NALA.
Key points in relation to management are:
- planning and administration;
- recruitment (See Outreach and promotion later in this chapter);
- initial contact with students;
- internal communication;
- programmeevaluation; and
- staffing issues, including training and development.
Planning and administration
Management issues such as budgeting, programme planning, administration, implementation and review processes should involve tutors, students and other relevant people.
Initial contact with students
Initial contact with students is a key element in a good adult basic education service. First impressions are very important as new students need to feel that they will be supported and receive good tuition.
The initial meeting should be held in a place where the student can speak openly and confidentially and find out how literacy work is carried out in the centre. It is especially helpful to involve current students in the process of welcome and induction for new participants. An existing student could act as a ‘peer’ welcome person. At the initial stages, it is also useful to tell students about the existence of the adult education guidance service should they wish to avail of it.
Good communication structures are vital. Internal communication structures must ensure that the way information is communicated respects the individuals and groups within a particular organisation or service. Information needs to flow in several directions, and structures should encourage feedback and discussion.
Different forms of communication are needed, depending on the people concerned. These may include one-to-one and group meetings or informal conversations, telephone and Skype calls, emails, texts, letters, newsletters and online forums. Many students use social media as a means of communication. The use of plain English is important in all communications.
All aspects of the service should be evaluated on a regular basis and there should be agreed procedures for recording, reviewing and communicating and for building on the results of the evaluation. Programme evaluation includes a review of:
- principles and policies;
- organisationand resources; and
- the effectiveness of teaching, learning and development activities.
Evaluation should involve students, tutors, resource workers, organisers, management committees and all other relevant people.
Staff training and development
There should be a distinct policy and a specific budget for training and development for all staff: tutors, organisers, managers, administration and other staff, both voluntary and paid. This should include initial training in the principles and practice of adult basic education, regular meetings, in-service training and access to accredited courses.
Tutor training courses are concerned not just with the techniques involved in teaching literacy to adults but also with the skills required to promote active learning. For example, such skills would be involving students in directing their own learning, finding ways of building confidence in a supportive atmosphere and thinking out effective group activities.
The initial tutor training course should be sufficiently comprehensive to allow potential tutors to understand fully what is involved in helping adults who wish to improve their literacy skills, and to give them the opportunity to judge whether they have the commitment to undertake tuition. The initial course also helps to determine if participants will be suitable tutors. New tutors need to be aware that they will be expected to give time to in-service training courses at regular intervals.
Both students and tutors should be involved in development of courses to share their experiences and develop ideas. Training courses should involve students in a positive way to fully communicate the effects of literacy difficulties. The only people who can speak about this with an authentic voice are students.
It is important that tutor training courses reflect the philosophy of adult education. The methods used should be those that encourage active learning and participation, such as role-play, small group discussion and workshops.
Regular in-service training is important. Tutors need to develop their skills in different areas such as learning styles, teaching reading, spelling, numeracy, ESOL, blended learning and the integration of technology. Tutors may also need to attend in-service training for updates on accreditation and certification for students.
There should be a member of staff with responsibility for planning, organising and monitoring the effective implementation of the staff training and development policy.