Quick Reads improve literacy rates

Liz Thomson
News - Publishing 03 Mar 2009

A survey published for tomorrow's World Book Day (5 March) reveals that 16% more learners are at literacy level one after using Quick Reads . Data gathered from literacy tutors nationwide shows that the books are having a positive impact on the improvement of the reading levels of adults, with 98% believing the books have been useful in helping their learners progress, and 76% reporting that more than half their learners go on to read other Quick Reads . A further 62% say that more than half of their learners then go on to read other books.

The survey of more than 500 adult literacy tutors, who between them teach some 30,000 learners, found that 85% of tutors have used the books within adult learning groups, an increase of 9% over 2008, while 93% have seen increased personal confidence in those learners who have read the books, and 89% report improved communications skills. As to written skills, 78% of tutors report improvements. The figures represent an average increase of 7% on last year's evaluation.

Ten new Quick Reads books are launched tomorrow, World Book Day, and among the line-up of authors are Ian Rankin, Catrin Collier, Kate Mosse, Gervase Phinn and Lola Jaye. To date there have been over one million sales of Quick Reads titles, and more than one million library loans.
A Public Accounts Committee report in January this year noted 'an unacceptably high number of people in England who cannot read, write and count adequately', a situation the Quick Reads scheme, launched on World Book Day 2006, appears to be doing a good deal to correct. As Jill Harrison, a Literacy Tutor in Thameside, noted: 'Quick Reads have had a tremendous impact on adult literacy tutors and learners. The books are bright, interesting, compact and accessible to even the most reluctant of readers. The mix of authors and genres ensures tutors have a wide range of resources at their disposal. Completing a Quick Read builds learners' confidence and encourages them to explore further reading. I wholeheartedly recommend them to tutors and learners. Quick Reads can, and do, change lives.'
The Minister for Further Education, Si n Simon, said that 'Quick Reads are making a huge difference helping people to improve their reading skills, their confidence and their job prospects as well as helping their families. The project is an impressive partnership between the book trade, education, libraries, unions and employers, and puts adults on the path to accessing more formal learning. I urge people to pick up a book today, develop a love of reading and reap the benefits at home and at work.'
Gail Rebuck, Chair of Quick Reads, was 'delighted that the Quick Reads initiative has become so well established and that this year's evaluation results show such a clear improvement on 2008. Last year's results were remarkable and this year they are even better. It is very encouraging that after only four years, practically all adult literacy tutors find Quick Reads have helped their learners progress. This is a huge achievement for the many partners involved in this project and proves that the key to encouraging adult literacy lies not just in stressing the importance of reading, but in making the reading experience as accessible and enjoyable as possible.' Those partners include the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; Arts Council England; the TUC's unionlearn and the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education.
Figures from the National Audit Office show that 12 million adults in the UK struggle with literacy, while, in England alone, 5.2 million adults (aged 16-65 years old) have literacy levels below Level 1 and would be unable to pass an English GCSE (source: DIUS). The target of the government's Skills for Life programme is to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of 2.25 million adults by 2010. That target was passed in June 2008, and the number of adults who have improved their literacy and numeracy levels now stands at 2.8 million. There is a target of 95% of adults achieving literacy and numeracy levels by 2020.

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