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Our Purpose

Promote effective and innovative practices in adult literacies teaching, learning and research

Support adult literacies practitioners and researchers

How we do this:

• Disseminate and promote research, practice, news and developments (via the journal, mailing lists, website and social media)

• Provide networks (nationally/ regionally), e.g. for literacies teaching and action research

• Bridge research and practice

• Hold conferences/ events

• Critique current policy and practice literacies frameworks, e.g. where it is based on simplistic notions of ‘literacy as a skill’

• Support practitioners’/ researchers’ professional development and nurture new voices

• Develop and maintain partnerships locally, nationally and internationally


• Find out about members so we can use their skills/ expertise and meet their needs

• Establish and maintain structures for networking and partnership development

• Revitalise the RaPAL Jisclist

• Actively promote RaPAL

• Actively support members wanting to undertake research

• Continue to develop the journal and methods of publication

• Continue to develop the website and use of social media

• Participate in and disseminate contemporary dialogues around literacies

• Promote the dissemination of effective and innovative practices, activities and experiences in adult literacies teaching, learning and research

• Generate professional development materials

• Continue to hold conferences/ events

• Allocate resources to activities

• Plan for succession

How we work

The main elements of RaPAL’s work are the publication of three journals annually, other occasional publications, and the organisation of at least one event each year, at which we hold the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of members. Through this work, we encourage communication between those working on literacy issues with adults. We especially look for opportunities to increase learner participation in research and publishing activities. Our membership network engages in consultation.

We critically examine the assumptions on which ABE (Adult Basic Education) practice is based, through encouraging and publicising a broad range of reflective research. Such research helps us to articulate the theory behind our practice; to keep asking questions about the significance of literacy in people’s lives; to challenge the political uses of common myths about literacy (such as: that lack of literacy causes unemployment; that lack of literacy means low intelligence; that parents pass literacy difficulties onto their children; that literacy can be adequately defined and measured as a narrow set of skills).

Because it is not enough just to ask questions, we work to make other organisations aware of RaPAL. We link with sympathetic organisations working with literacy in all parts of the educational system (including HE and FE) and in community contexts. We particularly value international links which enable us to compare experiences and learn from other countries.

Our current priorities are participation in national and international debates about literacy, to develop and publicise alternative views of literacy and to contribute to the professional development of staff in adult education.

The main organisational structure of RaPAL is the Working Group, an informal collective that meets in different locations around the country. Two sub-groups deal with different aspects of the work: organisation and development, and publications. Each of these groups arranges its own meetings and minutes. All members of the Working Group meet together at the AGM and for one other meeting each year.