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Schools identify lack of engagement in reading & writing for pleasure among pupils

New independent research by Pearson (@PearsonSchools), has found that reading and writing for pleasure are two of the top three skills that pupils engage with least in schools.

The research asked the views of almost 3,000 primary and English secondary school teachers, and found that almost one in five (17%) believed writing for pleasure was the skill pupils engaged with the least, shortly followed by reading for pleasure (14%). The lack of engagement in the two skills round out the top three issues identified, coming in just behind presentation and public speaking (18%).

The engagement challenges faced by English teachers differed by phase, with the issue of reading for pleasure four times higher in secondary schools than primary (where figures were 28% and 7% respectively). In addition, lower engagement with reading for pleasure was reported as a bigger issue in schools in more deprived areas (17% for the those with higher Free School Meal provision, compared to 11%). Interestingly, feedback around writing for pleasure did not show such a discrepancy.

Despite these challenges, confidence in English teaching is high among educators, with almost 75% of primary and English secondary teachers reporting their confidence in supporting mixed-ability classrooms, as well as making English fun and creative.

The findings come shortly after launch of Pearson’s third annual My Twist On A Tale writing competition, which opened for entries on International Literacy Day (Wednesday 8th September). Based around the forward-focused theme Our Tomorrow, the competition empowers 4-to-19-year-olds to improve their engagement in reading and writing for pleasure and bring the future to life through creative writing.

Supported by a range of competition partners including The Reading Agency, Love Reading, Authors Aloud, Parentkind, Governor Cymru Services, Book Love, Bookmark, Gingerbread, Heady Mix and Coram Beanstalk, My Twist On A Tale: Our Tomorrow encourages children and young people to unleash their fortune-telling skills, cast their minds ahead to the future and produce their own reflections on what it might hold.

Katy Lewis, Head of English, Drama and Languages at Pearson, said:

“Time and again, research has indicated that the benefits of reading and writing for pleasure are manifold, helping children to learn empathy, build their understanding of others, tackle key social topics, and process challenging life events.

My Twist On A Tale is a major creative landmark in the Pearson Schools calendar, supporting families and educators to engage the young people in their lives, encourage them to explore and express their emotions and talents, and reflect on the wider world. This is their opportunity to connect with whatever themes are important to them, be that family, climate, inclusion, technology, space exploration or beyond. We are very excited to see what they come up with – and to share their bold and brilliant work far and wide.”

Whether composing a personal letter to their 100-year-old self, writing a rap about what their town might look like in twenty years’ time, or re-imagining a classic tale with a sci-fi-style makeover, My Twist On A Tale: Our Tomorrow enables children to put themselves on the page, and get truly creative with poems, stories and – for the first time in the competition’s history – nonfiction. The winners will see their works published as an illustrated collection for all to read, as well as in a selection of audio stories.

Entries for this year’s competition will need to be submitted by 5pm Friday 26th November 2021, when an expert judging panel will decide on the winning pieces. In addition to written entries, audio entries will also be accepted.


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