CLPE report shows how schools are valuing and teaching reading in 2020

CLPE's Reading for Pleasure in 2020 report shows how schools are valuing reading during the pandemic but found that a quarter of teachers are worried about children’s access to books being a barrier to their reading development. 

“Books and stories provided a sense of togetherness when it can feel awfully isolating. [Reading for pleasure] provided content for conversations and a shared dialogue.”

This research report shares the outcomes of a survey that we conducted in January 2021 with more than 1100 primary school teachers from across England. We wanted to find out how teachers are coping with the demands of primary literacy teaching and to see how the principles of developing Reading for Pleasure are being enacted in primary schools during lockdown. The questions in the survey were guided by our own research into Reading for Pleasure which identifies factors which will be present in a school with a successful ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture.

Main findings from the research include:

A quarter of teachers are worried about children's access to books being a barrier to their reading. Teachers identified this as a major barrier not just to developing reading for pleasure but to children's literacy achievement overall. This was even higher in responders from the North West and South West where a third of teachers were worried about children's access to books.

Nearly 60% of children have been able to take books home from school during the pandemic. This is very positive as we know the importance of children having access to books. Of course, this means that 40% of children have not been able to take books home and have either had to rely on having their own books at home or solely on electronic versions of texts. This picture was similar across the country although in London fewer than half the children in schools have been able to take books home. Our data suggests that the younger the child, the less likely they have been able to take books from school home.

Many schools have done a combination of things and are obviously working incredibly hard to find as many ways as possible to get books to children. This has included buying books to give children as gifts or delivering books to children’s homes. Most teachers (82%) are finding ways to read aloud to their classes at least weekly. The majority are reading daily (58%). The pattern was similar across the year groups although teachers were more likely to read aloud to the youngest children more frequently. 69% of teachers had recommended a video of an author reading aloud and 38% of teachers had recommended a video of an author led activity. 

Louise Johns-Shepherd, CLPE Chief Executive said: “Books and stories are food for the soul, they change lives and nourish futures. It is vital that we come together to ensure that all our children have the access and the opportunity to benefit from the enormous power of reading.”

Read the full report here.

CLPE is one of the five UK literacy charities collaborating with World Book Day to provide insights into the impact of the last year on children's reading. The combined data from BookTrust, CLPE, Egmont, National Literacy Trust and The Reading Agency brings together the perspectives of parents, teachers and young people and highlights how important reading has been during the pandemic.