Sunday, June 22, 2008

Children need books, not quangos
Gillian Bowditch writing in The Sunday Times, June 22, 2008.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time, if you wanted children to read, you gave them books. These days, if you want children to read, you give them a literacy commission.
Ian Rankin,(pic above), author of the highly successful Rebus novels and a father of two boys, is the newest recruit to Labour’s latest quango. The Literacy Commission will attempt to drag the reading skills of children up from the appalling levels to which they fell under the Labour government.

In more than half of Glasgow’s secondary schools, most S2 pupils fail to reach basic standards in writing, while in one in three of its schools more than half of S2 pupils do not achieve required levels in reading. About 10,000 Scottish children a year leave school unable to read or write much beyond the odd graffitied expletive. Last year, an international study revealed that the literacy levels of Scottish primary school children had plummeted.
Of 45 nations surveyed, Scotland plunged from 14th place to 26th place in just five years, a period that coincided with Labour’s spell in office. England fell in the rankings from 3rd place to 19th place. All of this has taken place against the biggest phenomenon in children’s literature since Enid Blyton: the publication of the Harry Potter novels by a Scottish-based author.

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