Adult literacy classes 'are failing millions of school dropouts'

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The Independent Online

The Government is failing millions of adults who are unable to read and write, according to a television documentary to be broadcast tomorrow.

The programme, called Can't Read Can't Write, is presented by Phil Beadle, an award-winning teacher who previously took on school dropouts in the Channel 4 series The Unteachables. Mr Beadle brands the provision for teaching adults to read "a national scandal".

The programme, a critique of Britain's adult education services, sheds light on the "appalling" standard of teaching available to some five million adults in Britain who have a reading age of less than 12.

In the three-part series, Mr Beadle takes nine illiterate adults – some of whom have no reading skills at all – and teaches them to read and write from scratch in six months.

Kelly Moore, a 31-year-old single mother living on benefits, is one of the pupils who were unable to read before she attended Mr Beadle's class. She is furious at the schools system for failing to teach her.

"I really resent it now... No one took the time to work out that I wasn't learning." She is trying to get further lessons, but finds it impossible. "I just want to get the qualifications that I was entitled to all those years ago, but didn't get because they weren't there to show me how," she said. "It's so frustrating."

Mr Beadle is disgusted by the failure of the state to provide a decent education. "We as a body of professionals have got to do something about this. It has been festering for too long," Mr Beadle said. "If the Government does not provide the materials to adults who cannot read anything... it's a national scandal."

'Can't Read Can't Write' begins at 9pm tomorrow on Channel 4