Literacy

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Rebuck Baroness Rebuck Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Education Endowment Foundation’s publication Improving Literacy in Key Stage 1, published on 30 September 2016; and what additional funding they plan to provide to schools to improve literacy, including for (1) the accurate assessment of the capabilities and difficulties children have in literacy, and (2) for one-to-one tutoring for those in greatest need returning to school after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The Education Endowment Foundation’s publication emphasises the importance of systematic phonics approaches in reading and writing activities with pupils in key stage 1. There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is a highly effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language rich curriculum to develop children’s positive attitudes towards literacy. The National Curriculum for English places a renewed focus on the requirement for pupils to learn to read through systematic phonics, applying phonic knowledge and skills to word reading.

In 2018 the department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The department appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3,000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in reception and year 1. The Education Endowment Foundation’s publication has been used widely across the English Hub community.

The government has announced a catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. Our expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education.

The package also includes the National Tutoring Programme which provides up to £350 million to support disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. This will increase access to subsidised, high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

To support settings to make best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation have published a COVID-19 support guide which includes evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students. Details can be found here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/.

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