Poor reading ‘could cost UK £32bn in growth by 2025’

Sep 8, 2014 by

The fear that 1.5 million British children will reach the age of 11 unable to “read well” by 2025 has prompted the launch on Monday of a new campaign backed by a coalition of businesses, charities, bestselling authors and teaching professionals.

The Read On. Get On campaign is aimed at making a radical improvement in reading standards one of the central goals of politics and education in the next decade. It is being spearheaded by Save the Children, the CBI and the Teach First charity and is unusual in the diversity of its supporters – they include authors JK Rowling and Michael Morpurgo plus a host of book publishers, the Sun newspaper and the Premier League.

One aim is to get the main political parties to include in their 2015 manifestos a commitment to improving the reading of the most disadvantaged.

The campaign, chaired by Dame Julia Cleverdon, defines “reading well” as being able to read, understand and discuss books such as Harry Potter and Treasure Island.

A specially commissioned report says England is one of the most unequal countries for children’s reading levels, second in the EU only to Romania. The gap between the strongest and weakest readers is equivalent to seven years of schooling. The report calls for a concerted effort from all corners of society.

The report is claimed to be the “most comprehensive study of pre-school and primary school-aged children in a generation” and has found disadvantaged children are the worst affected, with 40% not reading well by the age of 11 – almost double the rate of their better off peers.

Research commissioned for this report, including by Newcastle University, CentreForum, National Foundation for Educational Research and the National Literacy Trust, also finds:

• GDP in 2025 could be £32bn higher if action had been taken to ensure all children were reading well by the age of 11.

• A wide “book gap” in Britain has emerged, with almost a quarter of 11-year-olds in the poorest families having fewer than 10 books in their home.

via Poor reading ‘could cost UK £32bn in growth by 2025’ | Education | The Guardian.

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