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Children’s levels of writing enjoyment drop lowest in 14 years

The number of children who enjoy writing in their free time has dropped to its lowest level in the past 14 years.

National Literacy Trust’s annual literacy survey revealed that numbers have dropped six percentage points in the past year alone, down to fewer than three in ten (28.7%) overall.

In the same survey, more than a third of children (35.7%) said they rarely or never write in their free time.

NLT’s Head of School’s Programme Martin Galway said: “Last year worried us greatly but this year has seen a further decline at our lowest levels. This is a crisis and we need to act now.”

Galway explained that in England, 7.1million people have very poor literacy skills.

As a consequence, individuals with low literacy skills lack the confidence to navigate health care appointments and online forms.

Galway said: “Low literacy skills have a huge impact on daily life and activities that many of us take for granted.

“People feel like a burden trying to access basic information and this in turn creates a vicious cycle that can have a detrimental effect on a person’s well-being.”

Research from the trust indicates that there is a correlation between literacy skills and life expectancy, as children born in areas with serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.

Reading and writing daily improves a person’s literacy skills, however the percentage of children writing in their free-time daily has dropped to just one in nine (11.1%).

Galway described the key methods the trust uses to tackle these statistics: programmes, schools resources and local literacy hub communities.

Their programmes target a variety of demographics, ranging from prison rehabilitation workshops to parent-toddler reading groups.

Galway emphasised the positive impact of literacy skills on people’s creativity, mental well-being and self expression.

He said: “Writing for enjoyment has an enormous impact on mental well-being.”

Children aged 8-18 who said they did write at least once a month cited creativity, happiness and relaxation as some of their reasons for writing.

The charity is expecting a forthcoming writing framework from the Department for Education following the next general election which prioritises writing opportunities for young people.

Find out more about the National Literacy Trust’s research here.

Featured image credit: Katerina Holmes from Pexels

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