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Category: Education Unveiled in News

Educational Standards And The Underlying Causes Of Illiteracy

In response to Deborah Orr’s article on Britain’s literacy crisis, Gerald Sandison points out that books are less valuable on the black market than other items. Sandison also argues that Orr’s claim that a school with a 47% pass rate for five GCSEs could be churning out "functionally illiterate" students is incorrect, as it is likely that many of those students obtained a good grade in English language.

Nicola Grove, a retired speech and language therapist, highlights the crucial role of language and communication difficulties in the issue of illiteracy. She argues that the poor language development at the foundation of literacy is often overlooked by UK governments, and calls for more attention to be given to this issue.

Another issue raised in response to Orr’s article is the abandonment of recent initiatives to improve literacy, such as "Every Child A Reader" and the highly effective "Reading Recovery" program. John Eglin argues that low achievement in reading is often accompanied by serious impoverishment at home, and that schools are playing an important role in addressing this issue. However, more support and funding are needed to continue this progress.

Overall, the response to Orr’s article acknowledges the existence of a literacy crisis in the UK, but highlights the need to understand the complex factors that contribute to it. The importance of language development and the challenges faced by disadvantaged students must be addressed, along with greater investment and support for improving literacy outcomes.

As a retired head teacher, I must confess my guilt about failing to address a serious issue until my final class. Despite being 15 years old, they struggled with basic literacy skills, yet exhibited impressive intelligence and empathy when discussing various subjects. Additionally, when tasked with an urgent project as a team, they worked splendidly together.

Recently, I completed a course to qualify as a teacher for dyslexic students. To my surprise, we were informed that the top cause of academic failure is inadequate self-esteem. Therefore, schools are responsible for instilling self-confidence in their pupils, which can be accomplished by identifying each child’s talents, even if they do not align with the standard curriculum.

Although some schools received funding to offer one-to-one tutoring for ten sessions, Deborah Orr asserts that these opportunities are becoming scarce. To tackle this crucial issue, schools must have the ability to employ more teaching assistants to provide personalised attention to pupils either individually or in small groups. Allow our proficient and enthusiastic instructors a reasonable amount of resources to confront this problem.

Deborah Orr’s article highlights significant concerns about the current social and political climate in our society. When I read the title of her piece, I assumed she would address the Cambridge report commissioned by the government, which concluded that teaching reading and writing to children too soon was detrimental. Instead, the report suggested that early childhood education should focus on social skills, memory, music, and games while postponing intellectual pursuits until later on.

It is no surprise that other countries with child-centric, pre-school education models fare better than the UK. If we structure our educational system in a way that emphasizes failure for very young children, how will we imbue them with the confidence to participate actively in society later on? Moreover, ads targeting babies and pre-schoolers inundate them with messages that suggest consumer goods are the key to happiness. Although European lawmakers proposed a ban on this marketing, the UK government voted against it. If a child’s subconscious is inundated with these messages, what type of adolescent or adult will they become?

Schools In England ‘to See First Real-terms Funding Cuts In 20 Years’

A prominent thinktank has warned that schools in England are facing their first significant cuts to funding since the mid-1990s. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), spending per pupil is to fall by 6.5% by 2019-20. Although the IFS notes that school funding has been well protected over the past two decades, funding for 16- to 18-year-olds is no higher than it was almost 30 years ago. Over this period, sixth-form budgets have already reduced by 6.7%, with a further 6.5% reduction anticipated over the next few years.

A new IFS report considers education spending across various age groups, ranging from early years provision to universities, over a number of years. The report reveals that spending on schoolchildren in England has seen the greatest increase over the past 20 years, with £4,900 spent on each primary school pupil and £6,300 spent per secondary student. In both cases, this represents almost double the amount expended in the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, the report predicts a 6.5% cut in education spending by 2020, a period which will see real-terms cuts to spending per pupil since the mid-1990s.


When examined over the past 25 years, further education has been the sector that has lost most from spending changes. The IFS report adds that this sector “experienced larger cuts in the 1990s than other sectors, smaller increases during the 2000s and is currently experiencing the largest cuts”. In 1990, further education spending per student was 45% higher than for secondary schools. By 2019-20, it is expected to be 10% lower, at the same level as in 1990.


Luke Sibieta, one of the report’s authors and an IFS associate director claims schools are about to experience cuts after significant increases over the last few decades. Meanwhile, spending in further education will remain at about the level of 1990. A Department for Education spokesman criticised the previous Labour government for cutting funding of further education most severely. The spokesman claimed that the Conservative government had since increased funding for disadvantaged pupils whilst creating new free schools.

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