THE SNP’s drive to improve literacy in schools lay in tatters last night after a survey revealed plummeting standards in reading and writing.
Figures released yesterday showed that literacy skills among both primary and secondary school pupils have deteriorated since 2012.
The slipping standards have reinforced fears that the SNP’s obsession with breaking up Britain has led them to neglect vital areas such as education.
The Scottish Survey of Literacy 2014 found that just 47 per cent of Secondary 2 boys were doing well or very well with their writing, down from 58 per cent in 2012.
The proportion of S2 girls whose writing was of this standard also fell from 70 per cent to 63 per cent.
Primary school children also fell victim to slipping standards, as the proportion of proficient Primary 7 readers fell from 72 per cent to 68 per cent.
The figures mark a decline from 2012, when Scotland’s secondary school pupils dropped down an international education league table, leaving them trailing behind their peers in Poland, Estonia and Liechtenstein.
According to the survey, the proportion of S2 pupils with good reading skills also dropped from 84 per cent to 80 per cent over the same timescale.
Primary pupils’ reading skills also dropped, with the figure for Primary 7 dropping from 90 per cent to 88 per cent and for primary 4 from 83 per cent to 78 per cent.The survey, carried out last year, involved 10,000 pupils in 2,250 schools.
The results come just months after the Scottish Government launched the Scottish Attainment Challenge which will provide £100million worth of funding to improve literacy and numeracy in primary schools.
Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “These are stark statistics which prove that when it comes to improving basic skills in literacy and numeracy and closing the attainment gap, the SNP is failing Scotland’s schools.
“The SNP’s obsession with trying to break up the United Kingdom has meant that it has completely taken its eye of the ball when it comes to education and helping those from the most deprived backgrounds to succeed.
“The statistics also tell us that the number of young people doing well and very well in reading has declined. That is something which parents will find totally unacceptable.”
Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur added: “While the SNP focus has been on their independence plans, Ministers have taken their eye off the ball in government. Ministers need to get their priorities right.”
Claire Telfer, spokeswoman of the Read On, Get On coalition in Scotland, said: “The stand-out issue highlighted by the figures is the impact of poverty on children’s progress in reading. There are no signs of progress in reducing the gap between the most and least disadvantaged pupils.
“There needs to be faster action to end this inexcusable divide, which will impact children for the rest of their lives.”
Education Secretary Angela Constance admitted standards “are not as good as they should be”.
She added: “This Government has already made clear that tackling the attainment gap is a key priority.
“The £100million Scottish Attainment Challenge, the Read, Write, Count campaign and Access to Education funding are all designed to drive up standards and close the attainment gap.
“In addition to these and other actions taken since last year’s survey was conducted, I have also asked Education Scotland to strengthen the focus on literacy as part of their school inspections,” added Ms Constance.