Reading and literacy highlight

15 September 2014

September the 8th was UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, with the organisation’s website urging colleagues across the world to recognise that Literacy is a key lever for change and social mobility, as well as highlighting projects in different nations. Here in the UK we have seen a great deal of activity; new research, celebrations and the launch of a number of campaigns aiming to get parents, carers and children reading.

This week the Department for Education published some new statistics on the attainment of young people at Key Stage 2. Analysis by our colleagues at the National Literacy Trust highlights both a small overall increase in attainment and a continuing gender gap – with girls still outperforming boys.

Whilst this small increase is good news, the wider picture still shows literacy levels in the UK that are a real cause for concern. For example. this week the Telegraph reported on new research from the OECD which shows that many UK Graduates lack in high-level literacy skills (see more on the wider findings of the OECD in our Policy and Practice Round-Up).

This week a consortia of organisations involved in reading and literacy (including CLA members the National Literacy Trust, the Reading Agency, Book Trust and the NAHT), came together to launch Read On. Get On: a campaign to get all children reading well by the age of 11. They have compiled a useful report that highlights the main challenges to this goal; particularly that the UK has a shockingly high disparity between the attainment of rich and poor children – one of the worst in the developed world.

Read on. Get on

is urging everyone- parents, businesses and politicians - to do their part in making sure that every child in the country is read to and with for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. It is also asking us all to sign a petition to government and to volunteer in our communities.

In support of the ‘10 minute read’, ITV’s Good Morning launched its own campaign: Just Read. Working with the Sun Newspaper they published findings revealing that

more than two thirds of children would actually like to read more. And of those, almost three quarters would like to spend more time reading with their Mum or Dad.’ .

All last week the programme focussed on reading; organising a new world record read for ‘the most parents reading to children at any one time’, and a giant book give-away this weekend of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ at over 200 participating libraries.

Nicky Morgan, our new Education Secretary, joined a host of celebrities and public figures and backed the campaign in an interview on Friday, saying:

“It is hard, of course, finding 10 minutes when you are juggling work and everything at home but it is so important,” she said. “Of course, you can share the load if there are other people around, and grandparents can join in too or other people who are carers.”.

Nick Gibb, Secretary of State for School Reform, also endorsed the campaign, writing this article in the Huffington Post.

Many congratulations to all involved; it’s inspiring to see that this commitment to reading together and to celebrating the joy and value of books has generated such high profile and widespread coverage.