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Volume 928: debated on Monday 14 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many school leavers in 1976 left school without basic skill in literacy and numeracy; and how this compares with the situation in 1970 and 1965.

Comparative statistics are not available; nor is there any generally accepted definition of basic standards of literacy and numeracy. In 1972 a survey by the Northern Ireland Council for Educational Research suggested that about 1·7 per cent. of school leavers— excluding pupils at special schools—had a level of reading attainment no greater than that of an average 7-year-old child. The council carried out a similar study during 1976 the results of which are awaited.