Our Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas reflects on the Levelling Up White Paper

02 Feb 2022
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It has been announced as part of the government’s levelling up agenda, that the government have set a target that by 2030, the number of primary school children achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths will have significantly increased. In England, this will mean 90% of children will achieve the expected standard, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by over a third.

The government also announced 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs) which will be designated in local authorities in England where school outcomes are currently weakest. These areas will benefit from intensive investment and support. This will ensure the worst off schools in the North, Midlands, South West and East of England receive the most support over this decade.

“At the National Literacy Trust we know that the lack of vital literacy skills can hold you back at every stage of your life. As a nation, we will only be able to truly level up if literacy is embedded at the heart of the government’s strategy. I am pleased to see that the government has committed to ensuring that 90% of children leave primary school reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.

However, we must not underestimate the scale of this challenge. The pandemic means we are facing an unprecedented national literacy challenge, exacerbating the challenge of levelling up, that can only be addressed by a holistic approach involving charities, businesses and communities working hand in hand with schools and teachers. Investment in schools in our most disadvantaged communities is essential and we welcome the announcement of Education Investment Areas. Our national network of 14 Hubs in many of these areas has shown the power of place-based working in addressing the literacy challenge in the most disadvantaged communities. It has equipped the National Literacy Trust with an understanding of what works in these communities. It has also shown us that teachers cannot address the literacy attainment gap alone.

We know that when schools work with partners, from businesses to community organisations, together they can excite and inspire young people, creating aspiration and an excitement about learning. The extraordinary challenge of post pandemic education recovery requires extraordinary resources, these partnerships are an essential part of the response. I look forward to working with the Government on how best to achieve this ambitious but essential target.”

Jonathan Douglas CBE