Literacy report is a dog's breakfast

8th January 2010 at 00:00

I am pleased that Gill Mackay (TESS, December 18) had such a positive and worthwhile experience as part of the Literacy Commission. Here's hoping she wasn't the author of the resulting report, a complete dog's breakfast of contradictory data, spurious claims and poor logic.

The introduction sets the tone by informing us that "literacy is a massive (sic) topic" and proceeds to tell us that, although information is hard to come by and there is no official definition of literacy (oh, yes there is: it's in the Literacy Principles and Practice paper from Curriculum For Excellence), precisely 18.5 per cent of Scotland's children leave primary school functionally illiterate, except in West Dunbartonshire where the figure is 0 per cent.

This would appear to be excellent news for those people fortunate enough to live in West Dunbartonshire and bad luck on the rest of us. But two immediate and vital questions come to mind. Why hasn't every other local authority in Scotland copied the West Dunbartonshire model, and what has been the resulting knock-on effect in the early years of their secondary schools? It would be very helpful to hear from anyone with the answers to these questions.

The development of literacy skills is indeed a complex (if not massive) issue and I fear there are no simple solutions to doing it more effectively. Sadly, the Literacy Commission report does not appear to have taken us very far in our understanding of the strategies needed to improve literacy skills in our young people.

Bill Boyd, Bellevale Quadrant, Ayr.

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