Numeracy and Literacy

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 1:39 pm on 18 February 1998.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West 1:39, 18 February 1998

If he will make a statement on the standards of numeracy and literacy in Welsh schools. [28398]

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

If he will make a statement on the standards of numeracy and literacy in Welsh schools. [28401]

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Standards of literacy and numeracy in Welsh schools are not high enough, and we have, therefore, set very clear targets for further improvement.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

May I say how pleased are the people of Wales that the Government are committed to improving the deplorable standards of literacy and numeracy in our schools, particularly after the reign of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) as gauleiter of Wales, whose legacy was 645 lost teaching posts? Is the Minister aware that firms such as LG in my constituency, which offer the promise of an enormous harvest of jobs, are insisting on high standards of technical skills, which must be founded on basic numeracy standards? Has he specific plans for improvements in our numeracy skills?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

I agree with my hon. Friend that the standards of numeracy are simply not sufficient. That is one of our legacies from the Tory Government. We are putting in train programmes to improve numeracy skills. I was always uneasy about the fact that my two sons never seemed to know their times tables because they had not been taught them and relied on calculators. Nevertheless, they got good maths A-levels and science degrees at university, whereas I just ended up as a politician despite the fact that I know my times tables.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

My constituency was one of only three in north Wales to participate in the summer literacy schools initiative. The school that participated was Ysgol Llewelyn in Rhyl. The pupils who attended were seven years old, and their reading and literacy skills were dramatically improved over the summer. Has the Minister any plans to expand the summer literacy schools in Wales?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Welsh Office)

Yes, I have. As part of our programme for raising standards of literacy and numeracy, I am delighted to announce the extension of the summer literacy programme for 1998 to cover every local education authority in Wales. Our intention is to build on the enormous success of last year's pilots, when more than 700 pupils in Wales were given the chance to improve their reading and to discover the world of books.