The latest skills survey for England, the first since 2003, shows that there are still far too many people whose poor basic skills put them at a huge disadvantage in modern society. This is mirrored by similar findings in recent surveys in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Headline findings from the 2011 Skills for Life Survey, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 1 December, include:
- 57% of the working age population are at Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C) or above in literacy. This is a rise from 44% in the previous survey in 2003.
- 15% (5.1 million people) are at Entry Level 3 (the level expected of an 11 year old) or below which represents no significant change since 2003.
- more people are at the lowest level of literacy than in 2003 - 1.7 million compared to 1.1 million
Research tells us that engagement in reading for pleasure can help to improve people's skills as well as increasing their motivation to read and learn more. In addition to the Six Book Challenge, The Reading Agency has developed several tools to support adult literacy as follows:
Words for Life - a new resource pack to help practitioners introduce reading for pleasure to adults at the lowest level of literacy drawn from pilot work by library and learning partnerships in Essex, Warrington and at HMP Birmingham. A full report of the Words for Life project, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, is also available.
Game On - a report on how digital games can be used to engage learners in reading for pleasure
Find a Read - our unique database which since late 2013 has become part of a website for Six Book Challenge participants. This is where practitioners and readers can find around 700 recommended reads ranging from books written specially for readers with low literacy such as the Quick Reads as well as other print and online items selected according to criteria developed by The Reading Agency.
Reading Groups for Everyone - our website for reading groups which includes case studies, tips and guidance for emergent reader groups