HC Deb 01 March 2001 vol 363 c717W
Mr. Meale

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans the Government have to improve adult literacy and numeracy skills in England. [152260]

Mr. Blunkett

The standard of literacy and numeracy skills in England has been too poor for too long. Claus Moser's report found that up to 7 million adults in England have weak literacy and numeracy skills. This is disastrous for the individuals concerned, weakens business competitiveness and places a huge burden on society.

The Government will shortly launch their strategy to tackle this problem. Our priority is to improve the skills of those groups where literacy and numeracy needs are greatest and where we can make most impact. We will spend £1.5 billion over the next three years and focus the work of all relevant organisations on ensuring that 750,000 adults improve their literacy and numeracy by 2004, and that we reach the literacy and numeracy levels of our international competitors.

Our strategy will deliver radical quality improvements. New national standards, a common core curriculum and National Tests will make sure that best teaching and learning practice is adopted across the country. And we are training teachers, establishing a research centre and introducing more rigorous national inspections so that standards remain high

The Government themselves will be setting an example with my Department working with other Government Departments and agencies such is the MOD and the Prison Service to bring about radical improvements in standards of adult skills.

Our literacy and numeracy strategy will mark a decisive step in addressing this country's poor literacy and numeracy skill levels and will give adults the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to participate in modern society.

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