“Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects” (DfE, 2014, p.10)
The development of language and literacy in the latest National Curriculum remains central; as the above statement shows, these skills provide ‘access to’ and a ‘foundation for success’ in school. It is more than success in school though. According to the OECD, “adults with good literacy skills (the equivalent of a good English Language GCSE or better) are much more likely to be in work than those with lower levels of literacy: 83% compared to 55%” (DfE, 2015, page 7). The same report shows that literacy skills also have a strong impact on wider social outcomes. For example, “adults in England with low literacy levels have twice the odds of reporting low levels of trust as their peers with high literacy, and three times the odds of reporting poor health” (DfE, 2015, page 7). Without language and literacy skills then, a young person’s life chances are severely diminished; their employability, health, confidence and happiness are all compromised.
Reading for enjoyment is a key part of developing literacy skills and research shows that children and young people who read daily outside class are five times more likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who never read outside class (Christina Clark, Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2014, National Literacy Trust).
The Big Read provides an exciting opportunity for teachers to inspire a love of reading in their pupils through an innovative art-based project inspired by the National Literacy Trust’s Books about Town for Schools. Delivered in 120 schools across London in partnership with Wild in Art, Books about Town for Schools increased pupils’ reading attainment and enjoyment of reading by building teachers’ skills and knowledge around teaching whole texts, quality children’s literature and promoting reading for pleasure.
Join the National Literacy Trust’s Network for more tools, resources and inspiration for teaching literacy.