Literacy: Coronavirus

(asked on 1st March 2021) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of their report Understanding progress in the 2020/21 academic year: Interim findings, published on 24 February, relating to estimated overall learning loss in reading in primary schools; and what powers the new Education Recovery Commissioner will have to direct the use of (1) additional, or (2) reallocated, resources, to literacy.

Answered by
Baroness Berridge Portrait
Baroness Berridge
This question was answered on 15th March 2021

The ‘Understanding progress in the 2020/21 academic year’ report finds that in reading Year 3-9 pupils are on average around 1.6-2 months behind where we would expect them to be in a ‘normal’ year. For primary pupils, estimates are:

Year Group

Estimated Learning Loss in Reading

Year 3

1.8 months

Year 4

1.8 months

Year 5

1.9 months

Year 6

2.0 months

The Government has invested £1.7 billion to give early years, schools and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support and summer schools.

We have also appointed an Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on this work. The objectives of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as outlined in the Terms of Reference, are to advise on the design and implementation of potential interventions that will help pupils catch up learning lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Terms of Reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner is published here:,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

We are investing in a national network of English Hubs across the country to improve the teaching of literacy, focusing on Reception and Year One.

In 2018 the Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme dedicated to improving the teaching of reading. We have since invested a further £17 million in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, English Hubs have continued to offer support and training to schools across the country by bringing much of their offer online.

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