Children: Literacy

Department for Education written question – answered on 2nd March 2021.

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Photo of Colleen Fletcher Colleen Fletcher Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the spend on literacy programmes for children under seven in England in each of the last 10 years.

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

The Government is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards, ensuring all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can read fluently and with understanding, and literacy is a key aspect of overall school funding. In cash terms, the total funding allocated to schools was £47.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, an increase of 36.1% compared to the £35 billion allocated in the 2010-11 financial year. The total school funding per year, across the past 10 years, is set out in the annual school funding statistics publication which can be found here: School budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, £4.8 billion in the 2021-22 financial year and £7.1 billion in the 2022-23 financial year, compared to the 2019-20 financial year.

The Department for Education also currently funds, and has funded, a range of programmes to support literacy development for children under 7. In 2018, we launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading in Reception and Year 1, particularly for disadvantaged children. Since its launch, we have invested a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focusses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. The programme has provided targeted support to several thousands of schools across England and, in this academic year (2020-21), it is providing intensive support to over 850 partner schools.

Through the Early Years Professional Development Programme, we are investing £20 million to provide practitioners in nurseries with access to high-quality training to raise practitioners’ skills in supporting young children’s development in early language, literacy, and Mathematics. We have also invested £9 million of National Tutoring Programme funding in improving the language skills of reception age children who need it most this academic year, through the Nuffield Early Language Intervention.

Additionally, the £90 million Opportunity Areas programme is targeting support to 12 of the most disadvantaged areas in England. 11 of the 12 areas have made improving phonics and literacy a priority, and 8 of those have particularly focussed on improving speech and language in early years. The exact amounts spent on these issues vary across the areas.

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