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Literacy and Numeracy Skills

Literacy and Numeracy Skills

The Army is committed to enabling all its personnel improve their Literacy and Numeracy (L&N) skills, and to ensuring they have the L&N skills needed to undertake training, be operationally effective and well placed to take advantage of professional and career opportunities. All soldiers are required to reach minimum L&N standards for promotion: National Level 1 standard for promotion to the rank of Corporal and Level 2 for Sergeant and above, and for selection for an LE Officer Commission. The Army’s target is for all soldiers to have attained at least Level 1 (GCSE Grade D-G equivalent) L&N standards, ideally, within three years of joining the Service. Attainment of these L&N standards is measured through holding the appropriate national Functional Skills (English & Maths) qualifications (or their recognised equivalents).

All Army applicants (without Level 2 L&N qualifications or their equivalents) undergo an assessment of their reading, writing, speaking and listening, and mathematical skills as part of the recruiting and selection arrangements. Those candidates with L&N skills assessed below the Army’s minimum recruit entry standard may be deferred and directed to local Further Education colleges or similar organisations to improve their skills. Without improvement, they can then re-apply.

All recruits joining Phase 1 training have access to specialist support to improve their L&N skills. The priority is to ensure all recruits meet the minimum Entry Level 3 standards required to join Phase 2 training. L&N provision is available to all soldiers throughout their Army careers – this includes specialist support for those whose first language is not English.

Army L&N provision is delivered by its own MOD Basic Skills Development Managers (BSDMs) or through contracted external providers. This provision is managed locally through the network of Army Education Centres (AECs) and is available both in-barracks and on operations. All this provision leads to nationally recognised civilian qualifications.

Specific Learning Difficulties

The term ‘specific learning difficulties’ (SpLD) covers a range of learning difficulties (including dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia) which may affect an individual in their daily life.

All Army BSDMs are trained SpLD advisors and can offer advice, guidance and a range of strategies to help individuals get the support they want and need. Having a specific learning difficulty will not necessarily prevent any applicant from joining the Army or progressing at work.

Languages and cultural capability

Language skills are key to successful modern military operations, engagement with our allies and for the building of mutual understanding and friendship with countries within which we have interests. Educational and Training Services officers can facilitate basic pre-deployment language and cultural capability training to those about to deploy on operations through liaison with the Defence Cultural and Language Centre and the Defence Cultural Specialist Unit. The ability to speak to the local population in their own language is an invaluable asset and knowledge of the local language and customs can make a significant difference to the success of both operations and overseas engagement tasks, including military training teams.

The Army Language Strategy includes a requirement for all officers to demonstrate a survival level speaking and listening competency in any language in order to be selected for sub-unit command appointments from 2018. It also provides opportunities for large numbers of soldiers to be trained in a variety of priority languages in support of Defence Engagement overseas and interoperability with our allies. The two key languages are French and Arabic but other priorities include Russian, Spanish, Dari and Somali.

Low level language courses at survival level are requested by Brigades and run from Army Education Centres using contracted tutors. Self-study resources such as Rosetta Stone and Michel Thomas are also available.

Those individuals wishing to study a language for their own personal development should contact the Army Library Information Service (ALIS) or visit them online through Armynet to access language resources.