Four out of ten children left primary school in 2007 without being able to read or write, Government figures show.
120,000 children could not read properly while almost 140,000 were unable to add up. The Government has failed to meet its own target, to get 85 per cent of 11-year-olds in England up to Level 4 by 2006, despite significant investment in improving schools.
Bright children often go on to university and leave their local communities, to rightfully pursue their careers.
But what about the children who leave school without any basic skills, they cannot read sufficiently to apply for a job and cannot do basic sums to be responsible for the money they do receive. These children are not socially mobile and therefore cannot take advantage of the opportunities most of us take for granted.
Whilst many rub along without any real hope or aspiration, some end up in the criminal justice process, ignored by their parents and punished by the system, only to continue to hurt the very community which nurtured them.
We need to invest as much in the academic basics as we do in academic excellence for our children. If we continue to fail in this basic necessity, we let our communities down as much as we let our children down.
I do not know, of a single child, born in England, who has failed to learn and articulate the basic English language, before they reach the age of five. In some cases children from the most deprived backgrounds have mastered one of the hardest languages to learn. Yet we find it acceptable, that these same children, cannot be taught to read and write basic English, after eleven years of schooling.
This is a sad and disgraceful reflection on our sophisticated society and our schools, who have failed dismally to stimulate our most deprived children through out eleven expensive years of wasted opportunities.
If we truly wish to remove poverty in our society, the battle must start with equipping all our children with the basic skills to communicate effectively within their communities, the rest is easy.