MPs unimpressed by govt’s ‘dismal’ literacy record

By staff

The government’s poor record on improving adult literacy and numeracy has been attacked by an influential group of MPs.

The public accounts committee criticised the Skills for Life strategy, which has spent £5 billion since 2001 aiming to achieve improvements.

The result is that a large proportion of the adult population can still not read, write or count adequately.

And it feared that even the new target announced last year, that by 2020 95 per cent of the working age population will be able to get by, will not have meant significant progress.

“Even if that ambition is realised, England will be raised only to the current standards of the top 25 per cent of OECD countries and they will probably have forged ahead by then,” committee chairman Edward Leigh said.

“This is a dismal picture, both for the many who face diminished prospects in what they can achieve in life and for the competitiveness of our country in the world economy.”

The committee warns new targets for numeracy will be “challenging to meet” and bemoans the low number of numeracy teachers available.

“The department’s biggest challenges are reaching people in the workplace who lack skills and getting employers to recognise the benefits of raising the skills of their workforce,” the report added.