A new campaign has been launched to improve adult literacy and numeracy rates across Hartlepool which lag behind the national averages.
In Hartlepool, 20% of adults are classed as functionally illiterate compared to 14.6% of adults in England.
The statistics highlighted by the Fabian Society also show that 55.4% of adults are also classed below level 1 in numeracy.
This means they would not pass an English or Maths GCSE and have levels at or below those expected of an 11-year-old.
Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, is developing a new campaign alongside the Hartlepool Fabian Society on a project it calls ‘One Town Can’ aiming to improve the literacy of adults across the town.
Darren said: “The premise is that in a town like Hartlepool, we can bring likeminded people together to drive forward the idea that they can undertake education initiatives for the betterment of the of the town.
“Poor levels of literacy and numeracy hold people back in so many ways especially in terms of gaining employment and enhancing career prospects.
“Furthermore, many parents are probably not in a position to help their children with homework due to poor levels of literacy and numeracy.
“This is something with which Hartlepool College of FE can help. We have a long and well-established track record of ensuring adult learners achieve literacy and numeracy qualifications including very good GCSE grades”
Darren has written to 38 schools in Hartlepool with the view of communicating this message to their pupils’ parents.
Darren went on to say: “The idea is that we can work with primary and secondary schools to help improve parents’ literacy/numeracy skills, which, in turn, can help improve pupils’ academic achievement.
“The schools can highlight the type of work their pupils will undertake and the College can then provide the appropriate knowledge, skills and qualifications.
“We’ve had a good initial response so far from schools across the town and this is something we hope to get up and running in the New Year.”
Gary Wootton from the Hartlepool Fabian Society said: “It’s fantastic to see somebody willing to take a lead on a collaborative endeavour such as this.
“The education sector has been plagued by artificial competition for too long. In this period of austerity, co-operating and working together is pretty much an imperative.
“The Hartlepool Fabian Society has been completing research into effective systems of education improvement, and Darren has kindly agreed to pick up this strand.
“It is a fundamental belief of ours that education is best viewed as an investment rather than a cost and it is hoped that the Tees Valley Combined Authority, the Northern Powerhouse, and the Department for Education view Hartlepool as an area worth investing in.
“Education does not exist in a vacuum: all of the work done by the council should be evidence-based and promote the best interests of the town’s residents.”
Darren added: “Hopefully this will then have a positive impact on pupils, helping parents to support their children – and ultimately have a positive impact on the entire education system within the town.”