appgLanguage unlocks reading:supporting early language andreading for every child
ContentsForeword, Lucy Powell MP4Foreword, Andrea Quincey, Oxford University Press5Executive summary6Roundtable participants list71. Background and context81.1 The language and literacy challenge in the UK81.2 Language foundations for early reading91.3 A renewed focus on supporting early language and literacy and addressing social disadvantage92. Language learning to support reading development in earlyyears and education settings112.1 The processes at work when learning to read112.2 A structured, targeted and explicit approach to learning language132.3 Targeted support: the evidence for oral language interventions152.4 Supporting early years practitioners and teachers173. Language and literacy in the home and in the community183.1 Strengthening the home learning environment183.2 Place-based working194 Recommendations: the policies and practice we need to supportearly language and reading development for all children224.1 The need for sustained Government leadership224.2 Maintaining the momentum around language and communication234.3 Enhanced status for language learning in early years settings and schools234.4. A stronger commitment to developing the skills of the early years and schools workforce234.5 Ensuring early identification of delayed language and language disorders234.6 Place-based solutions for communities where early language and literacy support is most needed244.7 A sustained and multi-agency approach to supporting the home learning environment24Language unlocks reading3
Foreword from Lucy Powell MP,Chair of the All-Party ParliamentaryGroup on LiteracyReading helps children to do well in school and in later life. It helps them todevelop their understanding of the world and empathy for others. It is alsointrinsically enjoyable – it feeds imaginations and gives children exposure tolanguage and stories to enrich their lives.However, last year in England, 160,000 11-year-olds finished primary school not having achieved theexpected level in reading skills which they will need to learn, excel and reach their full potential1. This isa gap that if left unaddressed will hold them back at every stage of their lives2.Education policy has rightly focused on the importance of teaching reading through phonics, andthere is considerable evidence as to the efficacy of this approach. But learning to read is a complexprocess and, in order for children to be able to understand phonics in the first place, they need to havesophisticated communication, language and literacy skills.Currently too many children are starting school without the words, oracy and communications skills theyneed to flourish, so it is clear that a new approach must be considered. If we want to have a significantimpact on children’s educational outcomes, these skills should be taught in a more explicit andscaffolded way.This was the focus of a recent roundtable hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy. Webrought together leading policy makers, academics, campaigners, education professionals and healthprofessionals to discuss how we can best support children to gain the early communication, languageand literacy skills they need to become a skilled, confident reader.We also looked at new strategies to support the groups of children who are most at risk of fallingbehind, including those from disadvantaged communities and those with speech and languagedifficulties. Indeed, children from the poorest communities start school 19 months behind their moreaffluent peers in language and vocabulary3, while 10% of all children have long-term and persistentspeech, language and communication needs4.This report sets out a new approach for structured, targeted and explicit language learning, in the home,in early years settings and at the start of school, and makes recommendations around how best tosupport this.In order to make a meaningful difference to children’s futures, particularly in the communities wherelanguage and literacy difficulties are deeply entrenched and intergenerational, we need to equipeducators with the skills they need to identify and address language and communication needs, andto use language teaching in support of reading development. We must also empower local leaders todefine how best to answer the specific early language challenges that exist in their communities.We must ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has the words they need to succeed atschool, at work and in life.1Department for Education: Key stage 2 and multi-academy trust performance, 2018 (revised)2Social Mobility Commission: State of the nation 20163Waldfogel, J. (2012) Social Mobility Summit, The Sutton Trust4Norbury et al. (2016) The impact of nonverbal ability on prevalence and clinical presentation of language disorder: evidencefrom a population study. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 57 (11), 1247-1257.4Language unlocks reading
Foreword from Andrea Quincey, Head ofEnglish, Primary, at Oxford University PressAs someone who has worked closely with primary schools and experts in thefield of primary literacy for many years, it has become clear to me that one ofthe key challenges facing primary teachers is the growing number of childrenstarting school with a limited vocabulary and poor communication skills. This‘word gap’ is a complex issue with a myriad of causes. But there is no denyingthe impact it can have on children’s capacity to learn, on their ability to makefriends and generally ‘fit in’ with school and, consequently, on their self-esteemand mental health.In the autumn of 2017, Oxford University Press (OUP) carried out a survey of UK primary and secondaryschool teachers with the aim of better understanding the nature of this ‘word gap’ and exploring whatwe could do to help schools address it. Over 1,300 teachers responded to the survey and in April2018 The Oxford Language Report: Why Closing the Word Gap Matters was published. Feedback fromteachers confirms that a language deficit is a significant and growing issue for pupils in the early years;respondents to our survey reported that half (49%) of Year 1 pupils in the UK have a limited vocabularyto the extent that it affects their learning. Even more worryingly, this gap persists and continues toimpact on pupils right through primary and secondary school. Over 60% of secondary school teachersreported that they believe the word gap is increasing.So OUP was delighted to be invited to work with the National Literacy Trust and contribute to this AllParty Parliamentary Group roundtable and is proud to be the sponsor of this important paper. It is clearboth from the research evidence and the excellent field-based examples shared as part of this discussionthat the word gap is an issue that must be addressed with sustained, multi-disciplinary action if we areto close the widening gaps between the most and least disadvantaged in our society.For further information visit the Oxford University Press website: oxford.ly/wordgap or follow OUP on social [email protected] @OxfordEdEnglish #wordgapLanguage unlocks reading5
Executive summaryBased on insights from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and a group of leading policymakers, academics, campaigners, education professionals and health professionals, this report outlinesthe ways in which we can best support young children to develop the early communication, languageand literacy skills they need to unlock learning through reading.1. England is facing a huge language and literacy challenge, which starts in the early years: Thelanguage and vocabulary gap between wealthier and poorer children is already apparent at 18months of age1. By the age of five, children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are startingschool 19 months behind their better-off peers, and struggle to catch up from then on2. Last yearalone, 180,000 five-year-olds in England started school without the communication, language andliteracy skills expected for their age3.2. Good early language skills are crucial for children’s futures: Early spoken language skills are themost significant predictor of literacy skills at age 11. One in four (23%) children who struggle withlanguage at age five do not reach the expected standard in English at the end of primary school,compared with just 1 in 25 (4%) children who had good language skills at age five4. Only 11% ofthose children who have not reached the expected standard in English at the end of primary schoolwill go on to achieve a good pass grade (Level 4 equivalent or above) in English and maths GCSEs5.What’s more, children with poor vocabulary age five are more than twice as likely to be unemployedat age 346.3. The importance of early language learning has gained public and political prominence: In the past18 months, government and public sector agencies have implemented a wide range of projectsdesigned to support language learning in the home, in early years settings and in schools. TheGovernment is funding a number of initiatives through its 12 opportunity areas, 32 English hubs andVCS grants, and a partnership with Public Health England is equipping health visitors with the earlyassessment tools and training they need to identify and support children with delayed language andtheir families.4. The evidence base on the link between early language skills and reading has been refreshed: Arenewed prioritisation of the importance of language development in the early years provided anopportune moment to draw out the evidence and learning from policy makers, academics, educatorsand health practitioners around the inter-relationship between early language and reading. TheAPPG on Literacy hosted a roundtable discussion, upon which this report is based, to highlightthe particular dimensions of oral language that support emergent reading and enable children toachieve reading fluency, which is a vital foundation for educational attainment and broader lifechances.5. The teaching of reading through phonics should be supported with a structured and explicitapproach to language learning: This report sets out a case for a structured, targeted and explicitapproach to language learning for early years settings and schools to supplement and support theeffectiveness of teaching children to read through phonics. Language learning – which encompassesdialogic reading, listening, shared narratives, vocabulary development and attuned adult-childinteractions to build confidence and language exposure – provides a vital foundation to enablechildren to unlock reading.6. Language learning must be supported in the home, in schools and in the community: To make thebiggest difference to children’s futures, parents, educators and local leaders must be equipped withthe skills, resources and strategies to support early language learning and emergent reading.1Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., & Weisleder, A. (2013) SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at18 months Developmental Science, 16(2), 234–2482Waldfogel, J. (2012) Social Mobility Summit, The Sutton Trust3Department for Education (2018) Early Years Foundation Profile results, 2017 to 20184University College London, Institute of Education, on behalf of Save the Children (2016) Early language development andchildren’s primary school attainment in English and maths: new research findings5Education Endowment Foundation (2018) The attainment gap: 20176APPG on Social Mobility (2019) Closing the regional attainment gap6Language unlocks reading
Roundtable event and participants listOn 4 December 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy and the National Literacy Trust helda roundtable discussion to explore the relationship between early language development and learningto read. The content of that discussion and the evidence and insights shared by participants forms thebasis of this policy paper. This event took place under Chatham House rules. A full list of participants isbelow.Lucy Powell MP (Chair)Robbie Coleman, Head of Policy, Education Endowment FoundationJanet Cooper, Early Language and Communication Strategy Lead, Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilTeresa Cremin, Professor of Education (Literacy), Open UniversityJonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy TrustLiz Dyer, English Adviser, North Yorkshire Coast Hub Manager, National Literacy TrustKamini Gadhok, CEO, Royal College of Speech and Language TherapistsJean Gross, former Government Communication Champion for childrenImran Hafeez, Bradford Hub Manager, National Literacy TrustMary Hartshorne, Director of Evidence, I CANMegan Jarvie, Head of Coram Family and ChildcareGill Jones, Deputy Director, Early Childhood, OfstedKate Nation, Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of OxfordJane Pepper, Headteacher of Childhaven Nursery School, national leader of education and teachingschool lead, Scarborough Teaching School AllianceLisa Ponter, Deputy Head and Literacy Lead, Rillington Community Primary SchoolAndrea Quincey, Head of English, Primary, Oxford University PressBob Reitemeier, CEO, I CANLiz Robinson, Co-Director, Big Education and Headteacher, Surrey Square Primary SchoolNancy Stewart, Principal Consultant, Early Learning Consultancy and Associate, Early EducationAcknowledgementsThis policy paper was written by Nicola Cadbury and Jonathan Douglas from the National Literacy Trustfor the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy. The production of the paper has been supported byOxford University Press.We would like to thank all the roundtable participants for their involvement and support for this pieceof work. Our particular thanks go to Mary Hartshorne from I CAN, Andrea Quincey from Oxford UniversityPress, Jean Gross CBE, Kate Nation from the University of Oxford, Nancy Stewart from Early Education,Teresa Cremin from the Open University, Caroline Wright from RCSLT and Robbie Coleman from EEF.Language unlocks reading7
1. Background and context1.1 The language and literacychallenge in Englandwhile a similar proportion of primary schoolteachers (69%), who were surveyed for therecent Oxford Language Report (2018), believethe number of pupils with limited vocabulary isincreasing6.England is facing a huge language and literacychallenge. The skills gap is apparent at just fiveyears-old, where our poorest children start primaryschool 19 months behind their better-off peers inlanguage and vocabulary1 and struggle to catchup from then on. The 2018 Key Stage 2 NationalCurriculum Assessments (formerly SATs) revealedthat one in four (25%) children, rising to two in five(40%) disadvantaged children, were not readingat the expected level by the time they left primaryschool2. This is a deficit that continues throughouta child’s school life, with England having thelowest teenage literacy rates in the OECD3.This language delay can have a significant impacton a child’s ability to learn to rea
early language and reading development for all children. 4.1 The need for sustained Government leadership 4.2 Maintaining the momentum around language and communication . 4.3 Enhanced status for language learning in early years settings and schools 4.4. A stronger commitment to developing the skills of the early years and schools workforce. 4.5 Ensuring early identification of delayed language ...