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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Reading 'turn-off' for many teens
Two people reading
The Scottish Executive wants to see literacy rates improve
A third of Scotland's teenagers do not read for pleasure and one in five say books are a waste of time, Scottish Executive research has revealed.

The figures emerged from analysis of a 2000 international study of 15-year-olds across 28 countries.

Initial results from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were positive and included high literacy rates.

However, 40% of those surveyed revealed that they only read if they have to.

Scottish pupils were in the top six in the international reading literacy rankings and in the top five in the international mathematical literacy rankings.

Despite this, further analysis revealed that 33% of pupils never or hardly ever read for pleasure, 22% felt it is a waste of their time and 40% only read if they have to - higher figures than the respective UK averages of 29%, 19% and 35%.

Scotland's figures were broadly in line with the OECD averages of 35%, 21% and 39%.

Building bridges

In Scotland and across the OECD, those 15-year-olds who said they never or hardly ever read for pleasure tend to have the lowest reading literacy.

However, those who read for more than two-and-a-half hours a day for pleasure are also outperformed by those who indulged in this hobby for shorter periods.

The executive is seeking to improve literacy standards through its Home Reading Initiative, which aims to encourage parents and carers to read to children from a young age.

The Building Bridges in Literacy project seeks to improve the transition from primary to secondary education by twinning schools to review reading and writing teaching in P6-to-S2, while numeracy development officers have been appointed to help boost attainment in literacy and numeracy.

Child reading
Pupils reading a large amount of fiction tended to score highest in reading
Education Minister Peter Peacock welcomed the fact that Scottish youngsters scored well in international tests but insisted he wanted them "to do even better".

The findings also show that Scots teenagers are much more likely to read magazines or newspapers than they are to read books - with 80% claiming to read newspapers at least several times a month compared with 71% in the UK and 60% across the OECD.

Pupils reading a large amount of fiction tended to score highest in reading tests, according to the research which involved more than 2,500 Scottish pupils.

Those reading a large amount of non-fiction or items from the internet also tended to perform well above average and only the reading of comics failed to have a positive correlation with reading scores.

Other findings include the fact that 56% of Scots pupils often feel bored at school, compared to 50% across the OECD.

A quarter of students in Scotland reported that in most or every English language lesson there is noise and disorder but overall Scotland's disciplinary climate was more positive than most OECD countries, including the UK average.

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