In the Observer yesterday:
Bestselling author Jojo Moyes has called on the government and the publishing industry to do more about the UK’s “shameful” adult literacy record. In 2018, Moyes, writer of global hits including Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, donated three years of funding to charity the Reading Agency for its Quick Reads scheme, saving the scheme from closure when its previous sponsorship ran out.
As often before, the reference to ‘UK’ drives me on to find out if we’re all the same or not. So, from the sometimes-reliable BBC Scotland but only as recently as 2010:
Scotland’s adult literacy levels are on a par with the world’s most advanced economies, a new survey has suggested. The Scottish Survey of Adult Literacy showed that 73.3% of the population had an internationally recognised level of reading and writing. Despite the high levels of literacy, the survey also showed that more than a quarter, 26.7% of Scots experienced “occasional challenges” due to their lack of literacy skills, while 3.6% were classed as having “very poor” skills.
I couldn’t find a more recent assessment, but in a 2019 report by the Literacy Trust, 2011 and 2015 data were used for England:
In England, adult literacy is often referred to in terms of ‘levels’ – for example, a 2011 government survey of adult literacy skills found that 14.9% (or 1 in 7) of adults in England have literacy levels at or below Entry Level 3, which is equivalent to the literacy skills expected of a nine to 11-year-old. More recently, in 2015, the OECD conducted its Survey of Adult Skills, known as PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies). This survey found that 16.4% (or 1 in 6) of adults in England, and 17.9% (or 1 in 5) adults in Northern Ireland, have literacy levels at or below Level 1, which is considered to be ‘very poor literacy skills’.
So, unless things have changed considerably, very poor adult literacy skills are between 4 and 4.5 times as common in England as they are in Scotland?