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National Literacy Trust Children and Young People’s Writing in 2014

The National Literacy Trust latest research shows that children and young people enjoy writing significantly less than reading. The report, Children’s and Young People’s Writing in 2014, sets out the findings of our fifth annual survey of more than 32,000 eight to and 18-year-olds. It found that while children’s enjoyment of writing has started to increase slowly over the past three years, they still enjoy writing less than reading (49.3% compared with 54.4%).

Meanwhile the percentage of children and young people who write daily outside class has remained relatively stable over the past five years, with more than a quarter (27.2%) saying that they write something outside class daily. This is in stark contrast to the dramatic increase in children reading daily outside class, which rose from 32.2% in 2013 to 41.4% in 2014.

Children do not see a connection between strong writing skills and job prospects

The research also found that a large percentage of children and young people do not connect good writing with employability. Only half of pupils (54.2%) agreed that being good at writing would lead them to get a better job and one in eight (12.1%) denied there is a connection.

The value that businesses place on recruiting employees with good literacy skills is being highlighted today at a National Literacy Trust, KPMG and Reform event at the Conservative Party Conference. The panel, including Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, will focus on the benefits of literacy to school pupils’ engagement, future employment prospects and employability skills. Following the introduction of the new National Curriculum and increasingly high expectations for school pupils, the discussion will focus on how to increase engagement and enjoyment of reading and writing.

Writing enjoyment and frequency reduce as pupils get older

The research also picks up a worrying trend that children do not enjoy writing as much as they get older and do so less frequently.

  • 57.4% of pupils in Key Stage 2 said they enjoy writing; this decreases to 47.1% at KS3 and falls to just 38.8% by KS4
  • 28.3% of KS2 pupils write something daily which is not for school. This dips to 27.3% at KS3 and falls to  23.9% by KS4

This is concerning given the clear link between a child’s enjoyment of writing and their attainment: pupils who enjoy writing very much are six times more likely to write above the level expected for their age than those pupils who do not enjoy writing at all (46.3% versus 7.3%).

A stark gender gap

Although the gender gap for both writing enjoyment and frequency narrowed slightly between from 2013 and 2014, a huge gap remains:

  • Just 40.4% of boys enjoy writing compared to  57.4% of girls
  • Only 21.9% boys write daily outside class versus 32.2% of girls

NLT’s Director Jonathan Douglas said:

“Our research highlights that more must be done to promote writing among children and young people, particularly boys. Although writing enjoyment and frequency is slowly rising, our survey shows that children clearly prefer reading. It is very concerning that children write less as they get older, particularly as there is such a strong link between enjoying writing and writing attainment. National Literacy Trust programmes to raise children’s writing levels, which are run in partnership with cultural organisations including the National Portrait Gallery, have transformed pupils’ attitudes towards writing while significantly boosting their literacy.”

Read the full report here.

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