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Schools: Literacy

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what progress has been made on the review of the national literacy strategy; and if he will make a statement; (148244)

(2) what measures his Department is taking to improve the standard of literacy in schools.

We commissioned the Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading—carried out by Jim Rose—to inform our efforts to improve standards of literacy in primary schools.

We have revised the primary framework for literacy and mathematics for the first time since the national literacy strategy was introduced in 1998, putting phonics at the heart of the teaching of reading. The renewed framework and associated training are the key vehicle for implementing Jim Rose's recommendations.

To provide further support to teachers we have produced a full, high quality, phonics teaching programme—‘Letters and Sounds’—which was published on 30 April.

We are also providing support for children who struggle to learn to read through the Every Child a Reader programme. This three-year, £10 million pilot, funded in partnership with the KPMG Foundation and other charitable and corporate funders, is helping 5,000 six-year-olds with significant literacy difficulties to learn to read. ECAR will be rolled out nationally from 2008-09, benefiting over 30,000 children a year by 2010-11.

Our reforms to the secondary curriculum are designed to support the continued development of functional skills in English, maths and ICT. The curriculum changes proposed by QCA would also create flexibility for teachers to tailor the curriculum to provide extra support for children who are at risk of falling behind in English or maths.

In addition to developing literacy skills, we are also taking steps to encourage a broader appreciation of English; for example through our Boys into Books programme, which has made a selection of books likely to appeal to boys available to all secondary schools. We have also worked with the Globe Theatre to develop a podcast to help children to study Much Ado About Nothing.