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England & Wales Education watchdog OFSTED today released a report highlighting falling standards in English, particularly in reading, in the UK. According to The Independent’s sister paper I, 1 in 7 in the population lack basic English skills; around 5 million people.
I spoke to English teacher Mr Howells, who stated that he was “devastated” by the figures and generally concerned about the content of the report.
The report particularly scrutinises education in primary schools, but this does have a knock-on effect on secondary schools. There has been an alarming fall in the amount of reading done in secondary schools, and most reading topics will involve examining small passages. As Mr Howells pointed out in the interview, such activities can be a lot less enjoyable and make pupils less likely to read in their spare time; this was the general consensus amongst pupils interviewed off-camera. When reading a novel in class, extended discussions frequently go into such small detail that there is not time to finish reading the book within the module, which detracts from the enjoyment of reading.
The OFSTED report is likely to cause controversy and consternation, so only time will tell what will happen in weeks and months to come.