Shauna Hanna

Reading in the UK: The Next Steps

The statistics on child literacy in recent times in the UK, tell a depressing story .  According to the Minister of State for School Reform, Nick Gibb, “Of those children who failed to achieve a level 4 in English at the end of primary school in 2009, only one in 10 went on to achieve five good GCSEs, including English and Math.”

The UK Government recently released a report on addressing literacy standards in schools.  They called it Reading: the next steps. Supporting Higher standards in schools

The report looks at the growing problem of low literacy in the UK and highlights the steps that can be taken to help. In the report, there is a fundamental statement which underpins everything that the next steps hope to achieve, “Pupils who can read are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed at school, achieve good qualifications, and subsequently enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding career. In addition to its substantial practical benefits, reading is one of life’s profound joys.”

Picture of a reading circle

We are so pleased  to see that the UK Government is taking the problem of poor literacy levels seriously and is introducing lots of initiatives to improve standards throughout the country.

Did you know?

In 2012, England was outperformed by 17 other countries for reading at secondary / high school level and 17% of 15 year olds did not achieve the minimum levels of literacy. In the ten years to 2012, England’s relative position in such assessments had never improved. In the last two years, however, thanks to initiatives laid out by Government improvements have been rapid and significant.

So what kinds of measures do they plan to put in place?

Reading: the next steps, supporting higher standards in schools’, sets out four clear strategies: the Phonics Partnership Grant Program (a £10,000 grant for good schools to support other schools with phonics teaching); a government funded program to support schools to set up Key Stage 2 book clubs; library membership for all Year 3 pupils; and continuing government support for the recitation competition ‘Poetry by Heart’.

Other initiatives

Other initiatives including Read on. Get on. encourages parents to read with their children with the aim of getting all children reading well by the age of 11 in the next 10 years. This highlights the importance of children having “reading role models” who can help them get into the habit of reading. This also demonstrates the impact that poor literacy can have in later life. In addition to not being able to share the pleasure of reading with children, studies* show that those people with poor literacy struggle with poor health and/or trust issues.

We can see the benefit of creating a culture of avid readers; Children who enjoy reading and spend more time reading for pleasure have better reading and writing skills and can even have a larger vocabulary and deeper knowledge, therefore, creating a virtuous circle and improving literacy standards.

If we want to see dramatic changes in the literacy levels of children in the UK, everyone; the Government, schools, libraries, teachers, parents and even us at Texthelp have a vital role to play..  A good start has been made, but we still have a long way to go.




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