Reading and literacy skills: Research offers reassuring picture of pandemic's impact

We must not “overdo the doom” when talking about the impact of the pandemic on children’s reading ability and literacy, researchers have urged.

While reading scores have fallen due to national lockdowns and disrupted education, the decrease is not large and certainly not “catastrophic” as some national media headlines have implied.

In early April, The Telegraph, among others, reported that “200,000 children will leave primary school unable to read”, quoting “unpublished government figures”. The reports say that 30,000 more year 6 children are now “struggling with literacy”.

However, a study involving reading test scores from 160,000 pupils finds that levels have declined against age-related expectations, but only by a small margin.

The study, entitled Words of Encouragement and published by GL Assessment this week, concludes that at primary level pupils are the equivalent of two months behind where they might have been. At secondary level, the gap is less than a month.

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