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Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his Department’s policy is on improving reading capabilities in (a) school-age children and (b) adults. (98058)

The ability to read well underpins all educational achievement and improves children’s life chances. The Department is committed to improving children’s reading capabilities. We provide a range of materials to support teachers, school librarians and others to ensure schools provide both high quality teaching and learning in reading, and promote an environment which encourages children’s enthusiasm for reading and helps them achieve their potential.

As part of our drive to improve attainment for all children the Primary National Strategy has renewed its literacy framework. The framework was made available earlier this month and offers enhanced support to schools and early years settings, drawing on the latest classroom good practice and research.

The literacy element of the framework draws in particular on the findings of the Rose Review which looked at a wide range of best practice in the teaching of early reading and found that systematic phonic work, set within a rich language curriculum, is the best route to becoming a skilled reader for the majority of children. The Primary National Strategy has worked closely with local authorities to put in place a package of materials, training and consultancy that will support schools in using the new framework.

More widely, our National Reading Campaign promotes the benefits and pleasures of reading to all ages. Key elements include the Reading Connects initiative which supports schools in promoting reading for pleasure to enhance achievement; and Reading Champions which finds and celebrates positive male role models and seeks to change boys’ and men’s attitudes to reading.

The Skills for Life Strategy is committed to improving levels of literacy within the adult population. Programmes are available free-of-charge to adults aged 16 and above who wish to improve their literacy and numeracy skills in workplace and community settings. The Government plan to help 2.25 million adults to achieve literacy, language and numeracy qualifications by 2010. Family Literacy Language and Numeracy programmes are a key element of Skills for Life. They enable parents and their children to improve their literacy, language and numeracy skills together. Courses are offered through schools, children’s centres, colleges and adult learning services. Parents have an essential role to play in education and their involvement and support for their child’s learning is critical. Our Family Reading Campaign will work to ensure all families see reading as an important part of their daily lives and part of the culture of their home. The Family Reading Campaign will be launched at the beginning of next year.