The three leading UK political parties have pledged to support the National Literacy Forum’s campaign to improve literacy in the UK.
The National Literacy Forum, led by the National Literacy Trust and supported by organisations such as Booktrust and The Reading Agency, yesterday (29th October), presented its “Vision for Literacy 2025”– for all children born this year to have the literacy skills they need to succeed by the time they finish secondary school – to parliament.
All three political parties agreed to tackle the UK’s growing literacy gap, with minister of state for schools David Laws (Liberal Democrats) saying: “It cannot be right that poorer children remain less likely than their wealthier peers to start secondary school with the reading and writing skills they need to succeed.
Shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan (Labour) said that the government, charities, schools, parents and communities should all work together to give children the best start in life, while minister of state Nick Gibb (Conservative), said: “Tackling literacy failure is a priority for the Government, and our plan for education is designed to ensure every single child leaves school prepared for life in modern Britain.”
The National Literacy Forum said its vision for literacy aligns with the Read On, Get On campaign launched by Save the Children in September, and has four main recommendations: the government should create a cross-departmental early years minister, invest in new support in schools, encourage Ofsted to look at reading for pleasure in schools, and build links between schools and their local business community, it said.
The group quoted Department for Education figures that show that that 52.6% of pupils in England gained five A*-C grades thisyear, down from the 59.2% last year. Disadvantaged pupils were hit the hardest, with just 34% of pupils gaining five good GCSEs in deprived boroughs of the UK, it said.
The forum also said the trend of low literacy continues into adulthood and that in some pockets of the UK up to 40% of the adult population lack the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old.
Jonathan Douglas, director of the NLT, said: “Today’s cross party political endorsement of the National Literacy Forum’s Vision for Literacy is an encouraging step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing to work with policymakers to turn the tide on the intergenerational cycle of low literacy. Only then will the country’s poorest families have the chance to secure a better future.”
The other organisations that support the National Literacy Forum are Arts Council, Barnados. Beanstalk, BITC, Booktrust, The Booker Prize Foundation, Campaign for Learning, CLPE, The Communication Trust, I CAN, NIACE, The Publishers Association, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Save the Children, Springboard for Children, The Reading Agency and UKLA.