The government will establish 35 country-wide “English hubs” to boost children’s literacy as part of a £5.7m investment.
The hubs will be set up by a new Centre of Excellence for Literacy Teaching and comprise a raft of measures unveiled by the education secretary Justine Greening. The plans aim to boost literacy in 469 schools with £7.7m allocated to developing high quality teaching resources, forming part of the government's social mobility action plan “Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential’, launched last month.
The Centre of Excellence for Literacy Teaching will focus on raising standards in schools, similar to the “Maths Hubs” launched in 2014 which are led by an outstanding school or college and bring together education professionals to develop and spread good practice. There will also be “phonics roadshows” to promote and improve reading as well as a fund for trialling language development at home in the north of England.
However, some authors have voiced scepticism about the plans. Michael Rosen tweeted: “Is this a joke?
He described it as a “government in hub joke” and asked “who's running them? who goes to them? who did they consult?”
He continued: “Every government for last 30 years has come up with half-baked, ill-thought out schemes to 'solve' attainment gaps, social mobility etc and there have been teams of apologists and media hacks to claim that it'll work. Hubs are just another bit of window-dressing to hide the cuts.”
Fellow children’s author Alan Gibbons shared similar frustration. He tweeted: “Government closes getting on for 500 libraries, sacks a quarter of librarians, hands over libraries to volunteers, slashes book funds, cuts opening hours and takes the public library service to the brink, then announces 'hubs’.”
Greening said: “Every child needs to be able to read and write well, and although many more can, there are still too many who can’t.
“Fixing that means working right at the start of a child’s life in early years and primary – that’s what lasting investment is all about.”