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Leading charities announce creation of new national measurement of children’s reading

15 Nov 2016

Leading charities and educational organisations have today announced they will create a new, consistent measurement of children’s reading in primary schools, which takes into account the range of skills needed to develop a love of reading and to read well. The announcement comes as variations in assessment measures suggest a decline in year-on-year SAT results for 11-year-olds reading at the expected level for their age.

The recommendation is part of a bold new strategy published by the Read On. Get On. campaign, set up in 2014 to get every child leaving primary school to read well by 2025.

This summer’s SATs results showed a sharp decline in 11-year-olds reading at the expected level for their age, falling from 80% in 2015 to 66% in 2016 [1]. Reading was also shown to lag behind writing (74%), grammar, spelling and punctuation (72%) and maths (70%).

Variations in assessment data and gaps in effective measures make year-on-year comparisons of children’s reading abilities currently impossible. Indeed, many schools and parents were left feeling that this year’s results did not reflect the progress their children had made in reading.

The Read On. Get On. campaign believes that current measures are failing to take into account the whole range of activities that define whether a child is reading well. The campaign will therefore aim to develop a series of measures which will reflect reading well at age 11 to include both cognitive and affective (motivation, enjoyment, engagement) processes.

Research shows that pupils who enjoy reading ‘very much’ are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age as those who do not enjoy reading at all [2]; whilst the national curriculum requires schools to support children’s enjoyment of reading, this is not reflected in current assessments.

Malorie Blackman, children’s author and former Children’s Laureate, said:

“I believe we must do everything we can to encourage children to read for pleasure, which is why I’m backing the new Read On. Get On. strategy to get all our children reading. The benefits of reading for enjoyment are boundless for children; not only can it help to improve vocabularies and fuel imaginations, but it can also help children to do well at school in all areas and give them the building blocks to succeed in life. With a wide range of stories and reading materials now available to children, we must value all forms of reading and encourage children to read whatever takes their fancy.”

Award-winning novelist Joanna Trollope said:

“I warmly welcome the Read On Get On strategy. It outlines the key steps needed to get all children reading with ease, and the pleasure and satisfaction of reading fluently can’t be overestimated. I hope we can all work together to make the joy of reading commonplace for every child in this country”.

Further research by the Read On. Get On. campaign shows that poor reading skills have a substantial impact on social inequality and the UK economy. If not addressed, the problem will cost us £32.1 billion by 2025 [3], which will equate to more than £1,200 per household.

The campaign’s new strategy calls on the whole of society to play a role in getting England’s children reading and highlights the importance of collaboration and local leadership; including new and innovative partnerships with business, publishing, the arts and the media to widen the reach of the campaign.

The 10 steps of the Read On. Get On. strategy to get England’s children reading are:

Leadership

1. The government should restate its commitment to our goal.

2. The Read On. Get On. coalition will recruit local leaders to convene campaigns addressing specific literacy challenges, using local assets alongside national programme.

3. The Read On. Get On. coalition will advocate and innovate to ensure services that promote children’s reading deliver quality efficiently.

4. The Read On. Get On. coalition will work with the government and researchers to create a consistent national measure of children’s reading and ways of tracking progress in early language and literacy throughout the early years.

Changing behaviour and cultural attitudes to reading

5. The Read On. Get On. coalition will develop a new integrated, national programme of activities including a further behaviour change campaign to support parenting, early language and reading6

6. The Read On. Get On. coalition will lead a national campaign and activities to promote reading for pleasure in schools, libraries, at home and in the wider community.

Early years

7. The government should increase investment in the early years workforce.

8. The government should refresh the role of children’s centres, which are a vital resource in supporting early language and reading skills in disadvantaged communities.

Primary school years

9. School leaders and professional bodies should support teachers’ professional development and subject knowledge of teaching and encouraging reading.

10.  The government should work with academy chains and trusts, local authorities and school leaders to ensure that all primary schools have school improvement support when local authorities no longer have a duty to supply it.

For more information on Read On. Get On. and to download a copy of the strategy, visit www.readongeton.org.uk

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.