One in five Scots children leave primary school not fully literate
Sunday 24 January 2010 3:26 PM
The proportion, which equates to 13,000 pupils, increases to one in four in the country’s poorest areas, according to the study.
Meanwhile, only three of Scotland’s 32 councils reported that all children achieved the expected level of reading and writing by age 14.
The findings were included in a study of literacy among pupils, which recommended a new formal exam be set to test reading and writing skills at the end of their third year of secondary school.
The report was commissioned by Scottish Labour and conducted by a group of experts, including Ian Rankin, the best-selling novelist, and Judith Gillespie, development manager of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.
Unveiling the report, Iain Gray, Labour’s Holyrood leader, said: “We need a revolution in literacy teaching our schools and we will argue for that in opposition and once in office we will pursue this relentlessly.
“This report is huge wake-up call for Scotland. With one in five Scots with literacy problems this mean that thousands of Scots will not reach their full potential and Scotland’s ability to compete in business and commerce will also suffer.”
He promised his party would eradicate illiteracy and innumeracy and backed the recommendation that a new qualification be introduced to identify struggling children at an early age.
The report found 18.5 per cent of all Scottish children leave primary school without being functionally literate, but this figure dropped to 10 per cent in the richest areas and increased to 26 per cent in the poorest.
The proportion of 14-year-olds not achieving basic standards of reading exceeded 20 per cent in two council areas and ranged between 10 per cent and 19 per cent in six others.
Fourteen local authorities said all pupils met this grade, but the figures were worse in relation to writing.
Only three councils reported all children achieved the expected standard, while in two areas half the children did not and in a further six at least 30 per cent fell below the expected level.
The commission concluded: “If the problems of poor basic literacy are to be addressed, there has to be a recognition that socio-economic issues are the main underlying cause.”
Scottish ministers “should make a formal commitment to zero tolerance of illiteracy”, it said, with appropriate education spending allocated to the problem.
A national strategy should be drawn up, it also recommended, and every council and school should develop literacy plans to be implemented from an early age.
By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor Daily Telegraph