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Volume 888: debated on Monday 17 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of school leavers in England and Wales were considered to be (a) illiterate and (b) semi-literate in the academic years 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73 and 1973–74.

This information is not collected by my Department, nor is there a generally agreed definition of "literacy". A survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research in 1971, however, used a definition based upon scores obtained in a reading test. On this basis a negligible proportion of pupils aged 15 in maintained secondary schools in 1971—excluding special schools—were "illiterate" and about 3 per cent. were "semiliterate".