The need for effective teaching of maths and English has been highlighted by a new survey on adult ability in terms of these subjects as well as information and communication technology (ICT).
The Skills for Life survey questioned 16 to 65 year olds across England and found that in some areas, as many as a quarter of people have numeracy skills equivalent to those of a seven-to-nine year old or below.
Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands and the South East saw higher levels of literacy skills than in other parts of the country. However, in London and the north-east, 17 per cent of adults were found to have Entry Level 3 equivalent literacy skills, placing them on a footing with nine-to-11 year olds.
Average numeracy skills were found to be even poorer, with 31 per cent of people in the north-east coming in at Entry Level 2 or below, the equivalent of seven-to-nine year olds. In London and the East Midlands, this figure stood at 25 per cent. In the south-east and south-west - the best performing regions - a shockingly high 19 per cent and 17 per cent respectively of the adult population still fell into this classification.
The findings have led to the government reaffirming its intention of improving adult literacy and numeracy, through a range of courses and funding for adults and young people no longer in education. However, it has also launched a consultation on the introduction of new English Baccalaureate Certificates for students in six core subjects including English and maths.
Carol Taylor, Director for Development and Research at the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, said: "There has been a huge effort from teachers, managers, volunteers and learners over the past ten years leading to a significant improvement in the literacy skills of the country, albeit for those at a higher level."
She added that this study reaffirms previous research showing that those with the poorest skills have been the "least well served".
"One in six of the adult population has some difficulty with aspects of reading and writing and one in four struggles with maths," Ms Taylor said. "This means they are seriously disadvantaged - in work, in health and in their role as parents."
Posted by Tim Colman