Adult Illiteracy/Innumeracy

Education and Skills written question – answered on 14th June 2005.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the level of adult (a) illiteracy and (b) innumeracy in England was in each year between 1994 and 2004.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) does not collect annual data on levels of adult literacy and numeracy. However, to inform our planning and delivery in this key policy area, in October 2003 the Department published the Skills for Live Survey: A national needs and impact survey of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills" (DfES, October 2003).

The survey assessed the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills of around 8,000 adults aged 16 and above in England. The findings are shown in the following tables. The assessment levels correspond to the new literacy and numeracy core curriculum and National Standards: Level 1 is broadly equivalent to a lower grade GCSE (grade D-G) and Level 2 to a higher grade GCSE (A*-C). Overall around 16 per cent. of adults had literacy skills below Level 1 and 47 per cent. had numeracy skills below this level.

Overall literacy—Base: all respondents with literacy level (7874)
Percentage of 16 to 65-year-olds Number of 16 to 65-year-olds (million)
Entry level 1 or below 3 1.1
Entry level 2 2 0.6
Entry level 3 11 3.5
(All Entry level or below) (16) (5.2)
Level 1 40 12.6
Level 2 or above 44 14.1
100 31.9

Source:

Census 01

Skills for Life Survey, 2003

Overall numeracy—Base: all respondents with numeracy level (8040)
Percentage of 16 to 65-year-olds Number of 16 to 65-year-olds (million)
Entry level 1 or below 5 1.7
Entry level 2 16 5.1
Entry level 3 25 8.1
(All Entry level or below) (47) (15.0)
Level 1 28 8.8
Level 2 or above 25 8.1
100 31.9

Source:

Census 01

Skills for Life Survey, 2003

A copy of the survey report is in the House of Commons Library and on the DfES website: www.dfes.gov.uk

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