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News story

Businesses urged to tackle the UK's literacy crisis by signing Vision for Literacy Pledge 2019

14 Nov 2018


Leading UK businesses, including KPMG, Experian and Walker Books, gathered at the annual Vision for Literacy Business Pledge summit in London today to commit to tackling the nation’s literacy challenge, which costs the taxpayer £2.5 billion a year.

Opening the summit, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, announced VCS funding for the National Literacy Trust to work with businesses to raise literacy levels in the country’s poorest communities by empowering parents to support their young child’s language development at home. In doing so, we will take forward the ambition of the government’s new early years coalition, of which we are a founding member.

Today’s summit was hosted by the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge. Established by the National Literacy Forum in 2015 and led by us and KPMG, the Pledge has boosted the literacy skills of some of the most disadvantaged children, young people and families in the UK. Of the 63 businesses who signed the Pledge in 2018:

  • 74% delivered literacy programmes in schools and 37% gifted books to children and parents
  • 32% created a book club or library for employees and 21% delivered staff literacy training
  • 5% funded national research on literacy in the UK

The National Literacy Trust is calling on more businesses to commit to the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2019, to tackle literacy problems in their workforce, in the local communities where they work and on a national level. In 2018, signatories of the Pledge made significant efforts to tackle the nation’s growing literacy challenge:

  • KPMG purchased Literacy Toolkits for 24 disadvantaged primary schools, gifting 1,200 brand new books and affording more than 6,000 children the chance to develop a love of reading.
  • British Land supported the reading skills and enjoyment of 7,819 primary school children across the UK, distributing over 23,000 free books, running 85 exciting events in schools and British Land retail sites, and funding reading for pleasure training for 87 teachers.
  • WHSmith raised funds to launch a National Literacy Trust Hub in Swindon, known locally as Swindon Stories, which encompasses a range of programmes and activities to equip children and young people in the town with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.
  • McDonald’s ran their fifth Happy Readers campaign, supporting families to read together by giving away free books in every Happy Meal™. To date, McDonald’s has delivered 61 million books into the hands of British children.

“Since 2015, UK businesses have made a significant contribution to tackling the nation’s literacy crisis through the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge. But the challenge is colossal and we need even more businesses than ever to commit to addressing literacy issues in their workforce, in the local communities where they work and nationally if we are to give every child the literacy skills they need to succeed in school, work and life.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust
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