Literacy in the UK

To illustrate the extent of the literacy problem in the UK:

  • Every year, it is estimated that 200,000 children leave primary school at 11 unable to read or write to the required level

  • According to the OECD, the UK now has the lowest rates of literacy of any developed nation

The longer-term consequences of this are hugely damaging for both the child and for society more widely:

  • Teenagers without basic literacy skills are significantly more likely to be excluded from school, commit crime, and to spend time in prison

  • Annually, it costs an average of £40,000 to incarcerate one individual, and approximately 50% of the UK prison population has literacy skills no higher than those expected from an 11-year-old

  • In addition to the financial and social costs of this crime and time in prison, the economic cost of poor literacy has been estimated to be £81 billion per year to the UK economy

  • Teaching children to read can be done relatively inexpensively and is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce young offending and crime, as it raises their potential and the opportunities available to them

Source: The Spectator Magazine

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