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National Literacy Forum

Vision for Literacy 2025

Up to 40% of the adult population in the UK’s most deprived wards lack the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old. This undermines our economic competitiveness and creates obstacles to fairness across society. We can’t afford to allow this to continue. We must act now.

19 members and supporters of the National Literacy Forum have developed the Vision for Literacy, which recommends four areas, or Pathways to Literacy, where sustained policy consensus is required to ensure that all children born this year have the literacy skills they need to succeed by the time they finish secondary school.

The Vision for Literacy aligns with the Read on. Get on. campaign and Fair Education Alliance and makes four key recommendations to address literacy :

  1. Early Years 
  2. Government should create a cross-departmental Early Years Minister to drive forward an integrated education, health, welfare and business approach to early years policy.
  3. Schools 
  4. Government should invest in new support for teachers, school leaders and governors. This should include the creation of a Royal College of Teachers.
  5. Reading for enjoyment 
  6. Government should instruct Ofsted to examine a reading for pleasure strategy in every school inspection.
  7. The role of business in education 
  8. Government should encourage the creation of Local Brokers to build links between schools and local business community, to support young people’s literacy and employability skills.

We are delighted to have secured cross-party support for the Vision for Literacy.

Minister of State (Department for Education), Nick Gibb MP says:

 “I am pleased to see this wide partnership of organisations coming together to tackle illiteracy. Nothing is more important in education than making sure every child can read; in fact the whole of society has a role to play in ensuring that children become fluent readers.

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.”

Shadow Schools Minister Kevin Brennan MP says:

It is vitally important that every child should leave secondary school with the literacy skills they need. Education is at the heart of every child’s future and it is up to the forces of Government, charities, schools, parents and communities to unite to ensure that all children receive the best possible start in life.”

Minister of State for Cabinet Office and Minister of State for Schools, David Laws MP says:

 “I warmly welcome the National Literacy Forum’s Vision for Literacy 2025 that aims to boost literacy. 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.

This is exactly why the Liberal Democrats have introduced the pupil premium – extra funding targeted at the children who need most support – and have given primary school children a larger share of this money. Teachers are already using the pupil premium to make a real difference to children’s lives, and this campaign can help to generate more debate and focus on how we can boost child literacy.”


Dame Julia Cleverdon, Chair of the Read on. Get on. campaign says:

Good literacy skills lay the foundation for success in education, employment, community participation, individual confidence and wellbeing. But sadly two in five disadvantaged children are leaving primary school without these vital skills. This is the unacceptable consequence of child poverty in the UK which is exacting both a life sentence on these children and a terrible toll on our society.

Low literacy is a ticking time bomb for the UK’s long term competitiveness and in this current financial climate; we firmly believe that tackling low literacy must be a top priority on all political party agendas.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says:

“Today’s cross party political endorsement of our 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.”

If you have any questions about our policy work, email

Vision for Literacy 2025 (PDF)

Summary (PDF)

About the National Literacy Forum

In March 2013, the National Literacy Trust convened the first National Literacy Forum. It is attended by representatives from Government, business, local authorities and the voluntary and community sector and meets twice each year to discuss policy themes pertinent to addressing low literacy.

The forum's aims are to:

  • Inform the development of national policy and develop consensus around literacy issues
  • Reflect on service development and create opportunities for collaborative working
  • Influence policy makers using collective expertise

If you are interested in finding out more about the activity of the forum please email

Policy papers

In July 2013, following discussions at the forum, we published a paper which identifies how literacy has a part to play in addressing child poverty.

Lost for Words - child poverty policy paper (PDF)

In March 2014, we published a paper discussing the role of localised approaches in improving literacy levels in the UK.

Localism - literacy and the importance of localised approaches (PDF)

Tackling low literacy in Middlesbrough

Find out how we are working with Middlesbrough Council to engage families and the local community in improving literacy skills.

Find out more

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.