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Written Statement - Launch of the Numeracy Employer Engagement Programme 

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

In September 2012 I formally launched the ‘National Numeracy Programme’ (NNP), which outlined a five year programme of activities designed to raise the levels of numeracy in school age pupils across Wales.

One of the actions set out in our numeracy programme was the creation of a numeracy-focused employer engagement programme to encourage schools and employers to work together with the aim of improving numeracy skills.

Evidence has shown that employer engagement can help pupils to recognise the usefulness and value of numeracy beyond the classroom and in the working world by demonstrating real life applications.

I am delighted to announce that we are now launching the Numeracy Employer Engagement Grant. The grant will operate on a two year funding cycle, and we have committed £500,000 per annum to support the programme. This grant will enable third sector organisations to broker new links, or further develop existing links, between businesses and secondary schools and deliver activities designed to improve numeracy. We will initially focus this opportunity on Key stage 3 and 4 pupils, but will review this approach in future cycles.

On 18 March, we will be inviting third sector organisations to submit bids on a regional basis, with the regions matching the existing education regional consortia boundaries. We will therefore be funding a single provider or consortium of providers per region; i.e. up to 4 collaborative organisations. This approach does not preclude any providers from bidding in more than one region. We expect providers to utilise any existing networks and links already in existence within their region to maximise the potential for this programme to be successful.

The successful organisations will be required to focus on a number of key areas. Initially they will be expected to forge links between schools and local businesses and gain commitment for taking the partnership forward. They will then be required to map out and prioritise the specific needs of the school, identified for example through the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF), numeracy tests and Estyn evidence. They will need to identify and plan the support that can be offered by the employer and work with the employers and schools to ensure that this is delivered. We would expect organisations to draw upon best practice of successful employer engagement activities from their own previous work and from published evidence, as well as from the broader employer engagement programme i.e. sharing with other brokerage partners across Wales.

When the grant is launched, a guidance document and application form will be provided, explaining fully how the grant will operate, the applications process, and the timetable for delivery. I anticipate that successful organisations will commence their activity in the new academic year September 2013.