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UK: lack of qualified staff is crushing childrens’ reading potential

Ella, 3, balances a stack of books at her school in Greater Manchester.
Ella, 3, balances a stack of books at her school in Greater Manchester.

So the race is on. In four weeks’ time, millions of people will be making their way to polling stations in primary schools and community halls across the country to have their say in who should run the country for the next five years.

But new research published today by the Read On. Get On. coalition reveals that the primary schools where many of the electorate will be casting their vote are failing in one of their main purposes: to give our poorest children the reading skills they need to fulfil their potential and escape the cycle of poverty.

Failing their futures

Research carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies for the coalition shows that, among children from poor families, the best readers at age 10 will go on to earn 20% more per hour on average at age 40 than those with the weakest reading skills – equivalent to an extra day’s wages each week, or the difference between earning the minimum wage, or a living wage.

A fifth of children in England leave primary school unable to read well, including over a third of our poorest children. That’s why the Read On. Get On. coalition is so important – and why we’re so proud to be supporting it.

Together we can make sure that getting the nation’s children reading is a key issue in this election, and that whoever forms the next government commits to solving the problem once and for all.

We’re calling on party leaders and election candidates to back Read On. Get On. and move this issue up the agenda. Will you help get the word out?

A stepping stone to success

Today, we’ve published a new report, The Power of Reading – that sets out what we believe the priorities for our next government should be over the next five years.

We argue that a much greater focus must be placed on children’s early years education, in particular making sure that the skills children are taught as they learn to speak and communicate in these formative years are recognised as a key stepping stone on their path to literacy.

At the moment though, toddlers aren’t getting the expert support they need and, as is so often the case, the poorest are suffering the most.

The research found that, among nurseries serving poor areas, only those led by trained graduates are offering the same quality of early education as those in richer areas.

Yet two in five private and non-profit nurseries do not have an early years graduate working there.

Time for action

Today we’re calling for early education in every nursery in England to be led by an early years graduate by 2020, with government support initially focused on nurseries serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

We must see action from the next government if we’re to give all children a fair start. We’re asking all election candidates to get involved and back the Read On. Get On. campaign.

Across the country, candidates are all now campaigning hard on the issues that matter in their communities – now is the time to act.

Take a minute to send a message to your local parliamentary candidates on Twitter about #ReadOnGetOn and get their support before the election.

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