More needs to be done to improve literacy and numeracy skills among trainee teachers, an education expert has told MSPs.

Liz Lakin, a senior lecturer in education, told members of the Scottish Parliament's Education Committee: "It's clear that we need to do more and we need to do more collectively."

She spoke out a week after figures last week showed less than half (49%) of Scotland's 13 and 14-year-olds are performing well in writing.

MSPs on the committee have also been told trainee primary teachers are graduating without sufficient skills to teach maths to P7 pupils.

Halla Price, who is in her final year of a BEd at Moray House, told the MSPs she did not believe everyone graduating in her year would have "sufficient skills in numeracy to be able to teach it to 11-year-olds at a reasonable standard".

Ms Lakin, of the Learned Societies' Group on Scottish STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths Education), told the committee: "Particularly from a numeracy point of view, we need to look back at the very basics.

"We need to make sure that all the students are able to identify where their weaknesses are, where their misconceptions are.

"But they might not actually know that until they try to teach somebody else."

Rowena Arshad, head of the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, conceded statistics on literacy and numeracy are "worrying".

She said: "We've got to go back beyond teacher education because the whole issue needs to be looked at from early years to teacher education, I don't think it's just about the education of teacher."

She had been questioned on the issue by Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith, who recalled how the committee had heard "some really shocking comments about the standard of teacher training, particularly when it comes to literacy and numeracy".

The Conservative MSP said: "If we can't train our teachers properly in this area, what hope is there for our youngsters?"

With regard to literacy, Lesley Reid, director of undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, stressed all students had to have passed Higher English before training to be a teacher.

She said: "A student cannot come into initial teacher education without a Higher English, so they have the understanding of grammar they require to pass Higher English.

"So, that understanding should be sufficient in terms of know what a sentence structure is, knowing what nouns, verbs and adjectives are, so they come in with that level of understanding into initial teacher education, but that's a very different thing from being able to teach children about creating sentence structures.

"A child will never write well unless they're motivated to write well, so one of the most important things we do in literacy teaching is to help student teachers learn how to teach things in motivating and engaging ways."

Speaking in a debate in the Holyrood chamber later, Ms Smith said the evidence was "deeply worrying" and would leave parents "horrified".

She said: "I call on the Scottish Government this afternoon to bring forward with the most urgent priority the necessary changes that will make all aspects of teacher training fit for purpose."

Labour's Daniel Johnson said comments about the adequacy of core literacy and numeracy in teacher training "must ring alarm bells".

"The only way we will address the declines in literacy and numeracy is if we equip our teachers to tackle it and the only way we will recruit teachers into the profession is if the courses are well-run and students are adequately supported throughout them," he said.

Education Secretary John Swinney said he was "concerned" by the evidence the committee had heard.

He said: "I acknowledge the issues that exist within initial teacher education, the government committed in the delivery plan last June that we would investigate these issues and we have done exactly that and we have reported to Parliament.

"There is of course ... important issues about responsibility for the delivery of initial teacher education.

"The government does not control universities despite what some may allege to be the case and universities have a responsibility for the delivery of quality of education and if there are issues that are raised ...I look to everybody in the system to fulfil their obligations to address these issues properly.

"There is an obligation on the profession to recognise the education opportunities for both trainee teachers but also for the profession to learn in that interactive way by receiving and welcoming new trainee teachers into our schools around the country."