Boris Johnson has pledged to stamp out the “scandal” of illiteracy among 11-year-olds if re-elected to City Hall.
The Mayor plans to roll out his successful Team London literacy schemes, which help three- to five-year-olds learn to read. He is concerned that older children without basic educational skills are more likely to get into trouble and end up involved in looting and vandalism as in last summer’s riots.
The Standard understands that all primary school children who are struggling with reading and writing would get extra support under his plans. This could include volunteers working with families whose children have learning development issues on a one-to-one basis as well as in library workshops.
Mr Johnson said: “We have a scandal in London that one in four 11-year-olds are effectively illiterate. People are leaving their primary school unable to read or write or do basic mathematics. I think we should stamp out illiteracy among 11-year-olds over the next four years.”
The Mayor told a People’s Question Time in Hammersmith that without these “basic tools” of economic participation young people were more likely to end up excluded.
Munira Mirza, the Mayor’s culture and youth adviser, told the Standard: “We’re hoping to give all primary school children who need it additional assistance. We have an ambition to eradicate illiteracy among primary school children and this is where we are starting.”
After the riots, the Mayor said he believed economic deprivation and education were major underlying factors. “You have to … look at the environment in which these kids are growing up — without boundaries, without discipline, and without proper educational opportunities,” he said.
Pippa Crerar, City Hall Editor
12 March 2012