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Falling literacy in Scottish schools

Falling literacy in Scottish schools

Fewer Scottish school children are good at reading and writing than in 2012, a report into literacy has shown.

Results from the 2014 Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy, which focused on literacy and was published today, show performance in reading dropped in primary schools between 2012 and 2014 - as well as in the second year of secondary school. Some levels also showed a drop in standards of writing.

The survey revealed around 8 out of 10 pupils at all stages were still performing well or very well in reading in 2014, but the figures were lower than in 2012.

The Scottish Government said since the survey had been carried out several initiatives had been launched including a £1.5 million annual Read, Write, Count campaign and the new Scottish Attainment Challenge, backed by a £100 million Attainment Scotland Fund.

Education Secretary Angela Constance said the results “were not as good as they should be” and in addition other actions taken “I have also asked Education Scotland to strengthen the focus on literacy as part of their school inspections”.

Literacy campaigners the Read On, Get On coalition, led by Save the Children, said the findings were disappointing for those wanting to close the attainment gap between rich and poor.

Spokeswoman Claire Telfer said investment was needed to make sure children were reading by the time they started school.

“The ‘stand-out’ issue is the impact of poverty on children’s progress in reading. For too long, too many poor children in Scotland have been allowed to fall behind in reading.

“It is deeply disheartening to see a standstill in reading rates for Scotland’s poorest children. 1 in 5 children from deprived backgrounds are not reading well by the end of primary school. There are no signs of progress in reducing the gap between the most and least disadvantaged pupils. There needs to be faster action to end this inexcusable divide, which will impact children for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said the results would send "alarm bells ringing" among parents. "Given the crucial importance of literacy and numeracy skills to our children’s life chances, Ministers need to get their priorities right.  They can start by explaining how they plan to turn around this worrying trend in the literacy standard,” he said.

Last year's SSLN showed a similar decrease in numeracy in Scotland.

image by Tim Pierce

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