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Children: Poverty

Department for Education written question – answered on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in child poverty on the number of children in Portsmouth who do not own a book.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase book ownership amongst children in Portsmouth.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in book ownership amongst pupils aged nine to 18 on (a) literacy rates and (b) pupil development in the UK.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

National Literacy Trust research published in November 2019 showed that the gap in book ownership between disadvantaged children and their peers has almost halved in the past six years (from 6.1% in 2013 to 3.3% in 2019).

The Department wants all children to be able to read well, with fluency and understanding. In 2018 we launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. Springhill Primary School is an English Hub which aims to support 170 schools in its local area, which includes Portsmouth.

The Department recognises that disadvantaged pupils may face greater challenges to succeed at school. Since 2011 we have provided schools with more than £15 billion in extra funding through the pupil premium so that disadvantaged pupils can receive the support they need. School leaders are free to use the pupil premium as they choose; drawing on eight years of research the Education Endowment Foundation recommends focusing the grant on meeting basic needs, that can include providing books, as well as teaching quality and targeted academic programmes.

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