Concern about literacy and numeracy skills of England’s young adults
February 26, 2016
A new report for the OECD has found that there are an estimated 9 million working age adults in England with low literacy or numeracy skills or both (‘low basic skills’): more than a quarter of adults aged 16-65.
‘Low basic skills’ are more common among young people in England than in many other countries, even among the well qualified (one in ten university graduates on the OECD measures are classed as having ‘low basic skills’). The report traces this back to a lower standard of performance at the end of compulsory education and therefore recommends that “the priority of priorities is to improve the standard of basic schooling”, setting more demanding basic skill standards and encouraging all young people to continue to develop their maths and English skills beyond the age of 16. It also suggests reducing the number of students in university programmes in favour of shorter professional programmes, particularly in the Further Education sector, which address skills gaps.
The Government has introduced a requirement that where young people continue in some form of education post-16 they must continue to study maths and/or English if they did not achieve at least a C grade at GCSE.
Governors can play a key role in improving the literacy and numeracy skills of pupils, not only through promoting high standards in these subjects but also through ensuring the provision of high quality careers advice which should include information about the full range of post-16 options.