Schools Plunge in the World Literacy League

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Clark

ENGLAND has plummeted down a world league table of reading standards atprimary school despite Labour's billions poured into education.

Our schools tumbled from third place five years ago to 19th, beaten by the U.S.and many European nations - including Germany, Italy and Bulgaria.

Only Morocco and Romania suffered a sharper decline in standards since the lastglobal reading study in 2001. Scotland also slipped down the rankings, fallingfrom 14th to 26th.

In an alarming verdict on standards in England, the study report said theperformance of ten-year-olds had deteriorated 'significantly', particularlyamong the brightest children.

The results paint a dramatically different picture to the ever-rising scores inour official national tests.

The shock slide deals an embarrassing blow to ministers who have claimed thatextra cash has led to continual improvement.

More than [pounds sterling]50billion a year is now spent on nurseries and schools - against[pounds sterling]27billion when Labour came to power.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study spanned 40 countries -Belgium was represented by its two sections - and five Canadian provinces.

It found that children in England - Wales and Northern Ireland were notincluded - were less likely to read for pleasure outside school than youngstersalmost everywhere else. But they had the highest number of computers..

Children's Secretary Ed Balls insisted last night that parents must take someblame, including those who let their children spend too much time on videogames, watching TV and using mobile phones.

'Parents have got to find a way to strike a balance,' he added. 'They need tomake sure there's space for reading and learning.

'Today's ten-year-olds have more choice than in 2001 about how they spend theirfree time. Most have their own TVs and mobiles, and 37 per cent are playingcomputer games for three hours or more a day - more than in most countries inthe study.

'There is a direct link between use of computer games and lower achievement.'Sue Hackman, chief adviser on school standards, said parents must not 'suddenlycut off' reading with their children because they think they have mastered theskill. …