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article imageReport finds one in five Scots have poor literacy skills

By Gemma Fox     Dec 4, 2009 in World
The Literacy Commission, set up to tackle literacy problems in Scottish schools has found that one in five Scots are unable to read or write properly.
The commission, which includes leading figures in education, academia, business and culture and includes the author Ian Rankin, called for "zero tolerance" when talking about tackling the problem.
Eleven key recommendations were made by the commission which are aimed at addressing the problem of poor literacy skills in Scotland.
The commission reports that one million Scots have problems with literacy in every day life and acknowledged that literacy problems affect people of all ages but would focus attention on younger children as poor literacy can be better addressed at that age.
The report states that 18.5% of Scots leave primary school without functional literacy skills - that amounts to 13,000 young people each year.
Speaking to the Good Morning Show on BBC Radio Scotland this morning the Education Secretary Mike Russell said , "What we were talking about 20 years ago was essentially an inability to read. What we are talking about now is an inability to cope with all the demands around us. It's not just about reading - essentially you need to be able to operate a computer, you need to be able to use a mobile phone. We need to ensure we are constantly upskilling people to cope with everyday life."
He spoke of how literacy is a bigger concept that just being able to read or write correctly.
The chairwoman of the Literacy Commission and also development manager of the Scottish Parent Teacher Association Judith Gillespie said, "There needs to be a zero-tolerance approach to tackling poor literacy and it's time that this problem was effectively addressed. At the heart of the commission's findings was the need to address the problems caused by social and economic disadvantage at an early age. This should be a key feature in the development of any literacy strategy. The commission also recommends that children are diagnostically assessed to see what help and support they need in order to flourish."
Among the other recommendations made by the commission was that literacy programmes were also set up in secondary schools and that these programmes would focus on more advanced literacy skills.
The Labour Party set up the Literacy Commission 18 months ago and the Scottish Labour Leader, Iain Gray, said that the report should be a "huge wake-up call". He also announced plans to eradicate illiteracy in Scotland. Gray said, "I pledge Scottish Labour to the task of eradicating illiteracy and innumeracy from 21st Century Scotland. We need a revolution in literacy teaching in our schools. 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."
The report comes on the day when the Edinburgh Evening News announced that head-teachers in 91 Edinburgh primary schools have rebelled against planned budget cuts of 2.5%, saying that further cuts could only harm the education of the city's children.
Parents across the city are backing the head-teachers and the Edinburgh Parent Council Network (EPCN) say that head-teachers would not be able to cope with Edinburgh Council proposed cuts. Calling the proposed cuts "dangerous", they say there is no room for further cuts which would see each primary school lose £25,000 and each secondary school £100,000.
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