Nationally approved adult numeracy teacher training programmes were started in September 2002 following the introduction of subject specifications by the Department for Education and Skills and the Further National Training Organisation in England. These programmes delivered by higher education institutions and further education colleges were found to consist of a wide variation of course structure and delivery style. This article offers a conceptual typological framework to classify the diversity of these programmes. It uses examples of adult numeracy courses drawn from a research project which investigates the diverse curriculum approaches to teaching the subject specifications, the issues around implementation, and the way that subject knowledge was translated into classroom skills. The typology uses Bernstein's theories on curriculum knowledge, transmission and recontextualization of pedagogic processes as a framework to classify and enhance our understanding of the raison d'etre of this subject area of teacher training courses, that is, to teach trainees how to be teachers of adult numeracy. The article also offers an ‘ideal' teacher training course where some of its elements are drawn from best practices identified in the project. Finally, this article might act as a platform for practitioners to critically assess how adult numeracy teacher training courses might be structured and classified.