The debate led by Conservative MP Caroline Dineage called on the House of Commons to recognise that with one in six adults is functionally illiterate, the UK’s skills gap is preventing the country from fully realising its economic development and is holding back so many adults who are unable to achieve their full potential. Whilst the record of the last Labour government is poor on this issue, Ms Dineage said that it is not just the responsibility of government; a solution must come from across society.
During the debate Mr Pincher said, “Whilst I am pleased to say that unemployment is falling in my constituency and is now lower than at any time since before the recession. The biggest barrier to entry to employment for people in my constituency is illiteracy and innumeracy.
“All too many of my constituents who write or e-mail me are older people. My office gets lots of phone calls from younger people with housing, immigration or tax issues, but when my office says, “Can you send us an e-mail or write to us to provide more detail so that we can fully understand your problem”, all too many respond by saying,
“Actually, we would rather not e-mail and rather not write because we are not comfortable about doing that.” How can we hope to help our constituents when they cannot communicate effectively with us about their problems and concerns?”
Mr Pincher praised the efforts of DIGIT—the dyslexia information group in Tamworth which provides support to local adult learners by providing them with reading buddies. He also commended the adult and community learning fund and recognised the importance of academisation in improving standards across local schools. Despite this, Mr Pincher said more must be done so our children leave school with the skills to communicate effectively.
“We must improve the teaching and knowledge of dyslexia in schools and ensure that efforts to combat dyslexia are vertically integrated so that our secondary schools know as early as possible which kids face challenges so that they can help the primary schools to help those children, and the children can go to secondary school with a higher reading age and improve their chances of obtaining better GCSEs.”
Mr Pincher drew particular attention to the good GCSE results posted by Rawlett School and the dyslexia support provided by Wilnecote High School.