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National Literacy Strategy

Volume 467: debated on Thursday 22 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the (a) cost and (b) effectiveness of the National Literacy Strategy; and if he will make a statement. (166684)

From 1998-99 to 2003-04 the Department has allocated £531.2 million to primary schools and local authorities to support the National Literacy Strategy. From 2004-05 to 2007-08 the Department has allocated a further 720.5 million to support the Primary National Strategy (formerly the National Literacy Strategy and the National Numeracy Strategy). We are unable to split the latter figure down to specific literacy funding as the precise allocations between literacy and numeracy are a matter for each local authority taking account of local needs.

The following table shows a breakdown of Standards Fund grants by year since 1998.

£ million

National Literacy Strategy

1998-99

62.7

1999-2000

72.8

2000-01

84.5

2001-02

102.6

2002-03

101.2

2003-04

107.4

Total

531.2

Primary National Strategy

2004-05

131

2005-06

185

2006-07

198

2007-08

206.5

Total

720.5

In addition to these grants the Department also holds a contract for the central delivery of the National Strategies. This contract includes the provision of an education field force, continuing professional development (CPD) materials and training events. The central delivery support for primary literacy in the current comprehensive spending review (CSR) period (FY 2005-06 to FY 2007-08) is approximately £10 million.

Improving standards of literacy is one of the Government’s top priorities. As part of the drive to raise standards in education, the Government introduced the National Literacy Strategy in 1998 and the results achieved by 11-year-olds since 1997 as measured by national curriculum tests in English have risen dramatically. Provisional data for 2007 show that 80 per cent. of 11-year-olds in England reached the expected level or above, an increase of 17 percentage points since 1997.

The renewed primary literacy strategy, with a stronger emphasis on phonics, Every Child a Reader and Every Child a Writer to help those pupils who are struggling, will help to ensure that we maintain and extend the improvements we have already achieved.