Poor literacy in Harlow being tackled with £300,000 levelling up investment

Education / Fri 9th Feb 2024 at 07:51am

MORE than £300,000 is set to be spent on improving literacy standards in Harlow- with writing of particular concern reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

Just 51.6 per cent of Harlow pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 1 (KS1) – 4.1 per cent points below the Essex average in 2022. The national average was 59 per cent.

For individual KS1 subjects, 67.3 per cent of Harlow pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, 2.2 per cent points below Essex. Nationally 67 per cent  of pupils met the expected standard.

But of most concern is the performance in writing where 55.9 per cent of Harlow pupils achieved compared to 60.4 per cent across Essex. The national percentage average of pupils reaching the expected standard was 58 per cent.

The government is aiming for 90 per cent of pupils achieve by 2030.

Other matrices show concerning disparities in Harlow. Good Level of Development (GLD) – which measures attainment at the end of the Reception year – shows a decline from 34.7 per cent of children who did not achieve GLD in 2022 to 35.6 per cent who did not in 2023.

More than £74,000 is being spent in reading initiatives, £54,000 on a re-engagement NEET Prevention Pilot Programme, £171,000 on early years and £20,000 on mental health help.

A decision statement from Essex County Council said:  “Most concern is the
performance in Writing where 55.9 per cent of Harlow pupils achieved compared to 60.4 per cent across Essex. Given the Government requirement for 90 per cent of pupils to achieve by 2030, based on current pupil numbers, this would mean an additional 371 Harlow pupils needing to achieve.”

Essex County Council estimates 80 of the most vulnerable KS3 students in Harlow should make at least two years progress in their reading by July 2024 – meaning their reading standards have reached where they should be.

The £320,000 investment is the second tranche of a £500,000 Harlow Futures pot earmarked to support young people in Harlow.

A decision statement from Essex County Council said: “Together these interventions and strategies will help young people in Harlow engage in education and improve their life chances, and wider outcomes for Harlow.

“Supporting schools, the college, and settings to help us meet the ambitions of Everyone’s Essex.

“Addressing inequalities and levelling up life chances for residents in Harlow with an ambition that no child is left behind. Children who have good language, speech and communication development and are confident readers and writers will grow up to reach their full education potential and more likely to gain employment.”

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9 Comments for Poor literacy in Harlow being tackled with £300,000 levelling up investment:

2024-02-09 12:10:40

What is happening in the family homes ? We were encouraged to read and write from a young age by our parents, we always had library books out. It was a lot harder and more expensive to get hold of books and writing materials but our parents made sure we had stuff. It's not just down to schools. amd how are schools expected to support learning with the huge influx of children who can't speak or read English? I don't know how schools are coping

Luke Burton
2024-02-09 16:31:38

I want to know what is driving these statistics. Even if you don't like reading books, the internet is pretty much one huge encyclopaedia. You can read and learn about anything you want. The sum total of human knowledge is out there and accessible at your fingertips.

2024-02-09 16:47:43

The problem here seems to be with writing. Yes the internet is a vast store of knowledge but children do not have to write things down just cut and paste. No one writes letters it just texts or WhatsApp messages of a sentence or two if your lucky. Or is it me just being old?

2024-02-09 18:52:35

Richard predictive text and auto correct has definitely made me lazy so that's a good point. I read a lot of novels too and half the time I can't remember what is UK english spelling or USA spelling but the article does suggest reading standard is an issue too.

2024-02-11 09:07:23

Figures in isolation don't mean much. How do these percentages compare with those locally, nationally and annually going back to 1947, (creation of Harlow) a pre computer and TV age?.

2024-02-11 09:16:32

I dread to think what some childrens home lives are like,i really do.

2024-02-11 09:28:45

Might children today have other valuable computer skills and the ability to type rather than write? Perhaps these should be taken into consideration. However, many parents and, as reported this week, teachers are overstretched and holding done two or more jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads to give the time to properly educate children. 40 years of the National Curriculum, SATs, OFSTED, focus on terminal exams and underinvestment have taken their toll.

2024-02-11 09:32:20

# typo "down" not "done" :)

John Duggan
2024-02-13 22:40:11

Edward, this country and most others have had economic downturns. We had much higher inflation and interest rates in the mid-late 70s. There are cycles. I have seen my own childrens' and nephews' A levels and university degrees, and, no criticism of them, but there has been a constant dumbing down. At O levels (GCSE), we had points deducted for spelling and grammatical errors for all subject papers. That is correct. Literacy is essential to communicate properly. One of the reasons so many Brits struggle with foreign languages is because do not have a good enough grounding in Grammar. To highlight the cultural decline, our Playhouse had regular productions of Shakespeare plays to full audiences from Harlow and beyond. When did the Playhouse last offer a work of Shakespeare or Beethoven? A Roy Orbison revival show may be great, but we deserve a broader offer. Hopefully, the new Playhouse Cultural & Arts Quarter will provide a wider offering. I am cautiously optimistic.

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