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Literacy news

House of Commons hears evidence on literacy and employability

5 Sep 2013

Today saw the expert witness session of the 2013 Commission on Youth Literacy and Employability, a joint venture of the All-Party Parliamentary Literacy Group and the National Literacy Trust.

The session took place in the House of Commons and was chaired by Stephen McPartland MP. Witnesses from the education sector included Fiona Aldridge from NIACE, Russell Hobby from the National Association of Head Teachers, Patricia Metham, who is the Lead Inspector for English at Ofsted and Headteacher Gladys Berry from Highbury Fields School. One area of concern was the removal of speaking and listening from GCSE English.

Next the Commission heard evidence from employers, including the Commission's funder, KPMG. Dame Gail Rebuck CBE of Penguin Random House gave evidence on their experience of entry-level employees, pointing out that there is often a lack of spelling and grammar ability in new recruits, even graduates. Grace Breen from the CBI said that over 40% of employers are not satisfied with the skills of school-leavers. Craig Robinson from KPMG said they were working with schools as they felt employers also had a responsibility to raise standards.

Stephen McPartland and Bournville School pupilsFinally the Commission heard directly from young people and their teachers. Pupils attended from several schools in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, including the Baverstock Academy, Bournville School, and Heath Park School. Volunteers from KPMG and Balfour Beatty also spoke about their experiences on the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Work programme, which the young people felt had transformed their attitude and given them confidence about finding employment. Nicky Cox from First News discussed the need to also identify specific learning difficulties early, so that all children can benefit from improved literacy.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this session.  The Commission will report later this year.

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