Stat of the Month: Don't write them off - 800,000 - No. of pupils attending underperforming schools
There's increasing concern that the younger generation doesn't know its three Rs from its elbows. Even Channel 4 has seen the need to run a childhood literacy campaign. And it's not just a question of creative spelling and the odd grocer's apostrophe. In 2006, 30,000 teenagers left school with no qualifications, and in a 2007 Insead study of the strength of OECD countries' skill bases, Britain came 16th - behind Tunisia. The business world has begun to pay the price. A CBI survey last year found that half of employers are dissatisfied with the basic literacy and numeracy of school leavers and declared some teenagers incapable of functioning at work, unable to 'make simple calculations in their heads, speak in an articulate manner or understand written instructions'. The Government's 'skills envoy', Sir Digby Jones, says British employers are now in the 'last chance saloon'. The Government has since launched a massive skills push, including creating 3.5 million basic literacy and numeracy courses to get young adults up to speed. Wouldn't it be better to get the reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic right the first time round?