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Building a Nation of Readers: The battle for Literacy in the UK

Slides for a Kingston University Masterclass session on 'Building a Nation of Readers: The battle for Literacy in the UK', by CILIP CEO Nick Poole

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Building a Nation of Readers: The battle for Literacy in the UK

  1. 1. Building a Nation of Readers The Battle for Literacy in the UK Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP Kingston University, 24th October 2017 These slides online at http://www.slideshare.net/cilip
  2. 2. “The objects of the Institute shall be to work for the benefit of the public to promote education and knowledge through the establishment and development of libraries and information services and to advance information science.” CILIP Royal Charter 1898 CILIP Constitutional Documents (amended 2014)
  3. 3. We want to build a 'Nation of Readers' – a sustainable, thriving ecosystem in which readers can read, researchers can research (and publish) and students can learn. In which libraries can lend and booksellers sell, publishers publish and authors write. In which all of these things happen in an equilibrium which ensures that everyone can afford to eat and pay their mortgage.
  4. 4. Authors Agents Publishers Distributors Retailers Librarians Readers, researchers, consumers Teachers
  5. 5. Improving literacy creates readers, in turn driving social and economic benefits for everyone
  6. 6. A presentation in 3 parts:  Literacy Today  The Battle for Literacy  The Way Ahead
  7. 7. Part 1: Literacy today
  8. 8. “Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world.” http://www.literacytrust.org.uk
  9. 9. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies Literacy in a digital age...
  10. 10. Source: OECD Report Building Skills for All: A Review of England  In 2013/14, England was 23rd out of 23 OECD Nations for Teenage Literacy  England is the only OECD nation where literacy for 16- 24 year olds is lower than 55-65 year olds
  11. 11. Source: CILIP Literacy & Numeracy in Prison  Approximately 30% of the UK prison population fail the Level 1 (Basic) literacy test
  12. 12. Source: National Literacy Trust Mapping Literacy Need across the UK  In 2016, National Literacy Trust and Experian mapped literacy across the UK  86% of English constituencies had at least 1 ward with low or extremely low levels of literacy
  13. 13. 1. Source: US-based Reading in Prison initiative and report 2. Source: Royal College of General Practitioners report  In the US two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th Grade will end up in prison or on welfare  60% of the US prison population can’t read & 85% of young people in juvenile court can’t understand the verdict1  In 2015, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) found that 43% of UK adults couldn’t understand the information given to them by their GP, in a letter from their hospital or inside a packet of tablets (including dosage)2
  14. 14. Literacy worldwide
  15. 15. Literacy worldwide
  16. 16. The better news... Source: Source: Clark, G. (2008). A farewell to alms: a brief economic history of the world. Princeton University Press.
  17. 17. The better news... Source: Source: Our World in Data – National Centre for Educational Standards (US figures)
  18. 18. The “Attainment Gap” Source: House of Commons Education Selection Committee Report of Session 2014/15  “White working class underachievement in education is real and persistent. White children who are eligible for free school meals are consistently the lowest performing group in the country, and the difference between their educational performance and that of their less deprived white peers is larger than for any other ethnic group. The gap exists at age five and widens as children get older. This matters, not least because the nature of the labour market in England has changed and the consequences for young people of low educational achievement are now more dramatic than they may have been in the past.”
  19. 19. The benefits of literacy For individuals...  Reading for pleasure builds empathy, wellbeing & understanding  Increased earnings (lifetime)  Improved attainment  Improved health (36% of people with low literacy experience depressive symptoms – 20% with reasonable literacy) For society & economy...  Low levels of literacy cost the taxpayer £81bn p.a. (Reading Agency)  More literate nations tend to have higher per-capita earnings  Innovation & ‘knowledge intensive’ industries  Investment in literacy & skills is up to 3 times as effective as investment in capital, equipment & infrastructure
  20. 20. The picture that emerges is one of serious inequality. Children who are exposed to reading and literacy at an early age have a fundamentally better shot at getting on in life than those who are not.
  21. 21. Part 2: The Battle for Literacy
  22. 22. 2016 was the best year on record for the publishing industry...  7% increase in overall sales (to £4.8bn)  6% increase in export sales (to £2.6bn or 54% of total)  6% increase in digital sales (despite 3% drop in eBook sales)  16% increase in children’s book sales  Non-fiction up by 9%, fiction down by 7% (23% since 2012) Source: Publishers Association Yearbook 2016
  23. 23. Challenging times for libraries...  Since 2010, approximately 343 public libraries have closed & 500 have been handed over to communities to run.  8,000 professional librarians have lost their jobs (25% of the professional workforce), replaced by 15,000 volunteers.  In some areas book borrowing (issues) has declined by up to 50%.  250m visits to public libraries in England in 2015/16 & 16-24 year olds the fastest- growing group BBC Public Libraries dataset 2016
  24. 24. Premier League Primary Stars
  25. 25. Businesses committing to promoting literacy
  26. 26. Read on, get on A coalition of businesses, charities & organisations committed to getting all children reading well by the age of 11 by 2025
  27. 27. The fall & rise of the Book Group  23% of UK workplaces have a book group  2.1% of all UK adults were a member of a book group in 2016  40% of book group members admit to lying about having read the book...
  28. 28. The ‘celebrity author’ effect...  The 2016 most-read books in the Renaissance Learning What Kids are Reading report were JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online Source: Renaissance Learning What Kids Are Reading Awards 2016
  29. 29. Developing “reader communities”  The Kingston University/Kingston Public Libraries initiative KU Big Read promotes literacy and reading as a shared experience across students, staff and residents Source: Kingston University KU Big Read website
  30. 30. It’s not just about whether people are reading, but what they’re reading & why they’re reading it.
  31. 31. Representation & publishing Source: Various, incl. publishers websites & The Bookseller  In 2016, of the 000’s of books published, fewer than 100 were from authors of a non-white background  Of the 100 Bestsellers of 2016, just one was by a British writer from an ethnic minority background  Several major initiatives are seeking to change this picture, including the Jhalak Prize for Fiction and the Penguin Random House WriteNow list
  32. 32. Winning the battle for equal access to literacy depends on authors being able to write & publish fantastic, diverse books & readers being able to find, buy and enjoy them
  33. 33. Making a living as an author Source: Society of Authors  Median earnings c. £12,500 per annum (compared to national average wage of £26,000) – below the national minimum wage for full- time jobs  Despite spectacular performance by publishers, median wages for authors have declined by 29% in the last 10 years  1 in 10 authors can earn a living from writing  Women earn 77% of the salary that men earn for equivalent work
  34. 34. Part 3: The Way Ahead
  35. 35. Authors Agents Publishers Distributors Retailers Librarians Readers, researchers, consumers Teachers Increasing the number of people who can read and who choose to read for pleasure or attainment is good for all of us. It’s good for the book business and good for society at large. That’s why we need to build a Nation of Readers
  36. 36. Source: OECD Report Building Skills for All: A Review of England  The highest-performing nations for teenage (16-19) literacy include Korea, Japan, the Netherlands and Finland
  37. 37. Learning from Finland Source: IFLA Main factors behind the good PISA (Literacy) results in Finland, Pirjo Sinko  Finland’s education system consistently outperforms other nations in world rankings for educational attainment, literacy and numeracy  Formal education begins at 7 years  Pre-school development focuses on creative play, equality, communication and the ‘joy of learning’  Formal education avoids examinations (until 18), selection & ‘teaching to the test’  “Kindergarten in Finland doesn’t focus on preparing children for school academically. Instead the main goal is to make sure that the children are happy and responsible individuals.” – Pasi Sahlberg
  38. 38. A society where reading is prized Source: IFLA Main factors behind the good PISA (Literacy) results in Finland, Pirjo Sinko  Teachers are not left alone to promote literacy & reading for pleasure but have considerably more autonomy to design teaching & learning in the classroom  Libraries are amongst the most beloved (& well-funded) civic institutions  Most homes in Finland subscribe to at least 1 newspaper  Strong interest in literature as a means of sustaining the language & culture  Foreign-language TV subtitled in Finnish – promoting reading for children  Rich oral tradition & a contemporary culture of storytelling  Strong emphasis on a broad definition of literacy to include finding & using information as well as reading
  39. 39. We want to build a 'Nation of Readers' – a sustainable, thriving ecosystem in which readers can read, researchers can research (and publish) and students can learn. In which libraries can lend and booksellers sell, publishers publish and authors write. In which all of these things happen in an equilibrium which ensures that everyone can afford to eat and pay their mortgage.
  40. 40. 10 Priorities for the UK 1. We need to decide to become a highly-skilled, literate nation 2. Many of these issues are driven by consumer choice and the electorate – we ought not to accept a public agenda that fails to deliver literacy for all 3. We have a world-class publishing sector, but the focus on the bottom-line constrains innovation & diversity 4. We need to disrupt the publishing supply-chain, creating opportunities for more scalable mass-distribution of works – democratising access to the means of distribution while sustaining an industry which drives quality 5. We need to encourage diversification across the supply-chain, blurring the boundaries between publishers, distributors, retailers and services
  41. 41. 10 Priorities for the UK 6. We need to bring forward policies which promote an education system that emphasises outcomes and teacher autonomy over form-filling and standardised testing 7. We need proactively to tackle the under-representation of BAME and minority ethnic groups in writing and publishing, including re-stating the value of the author at the heart of book publishing, retail and distribution 8. We need to stop dismantling public and school libraries and instead focus on building bridges between libraries, education & reading for pleasure 9. We need to correct the broken market between academic research and publishing, ensuring that knowledge can be shared & built upon 10. Across the whole publishing supply chain, we need to focus on maximising every individuals access to high-quality, diverse books (and e-books) which encourage discovery, reading, empathy and the development of skills
  42. 42. Authors Agents Publishers Distributors Retailers Librarians Readers, researchers, consumers Teachers
  43. 43. Improving literacy creates readers, in turn driving social and economic benefits for everyone
  44. 44. Thankyou! These slides online at http://www.slideshare.net/cilip Nick Poole, Chief Executive, CILIP nick.poole@cilip.org.uk @NickPoole1 @CILIPinfo

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