£10m Campaign to Help 10,000 Disadvantaged Primary Pupils in the North East Learn to Read and Write

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Northern Rock Foundation are launching a £10m campaign to boost literacy levels for disadvantaged primary school pupils in the North East, it was announced today. 

The five-year campaign will aim to reach all 880 primary schools in the region in order to narrow the gap in educational outcomes between children from low-income homes and their more advantaged classmates.

A recent report by IPPR found that disadvantaged children in the north of England are falling behind similar children in the south before they start school. 

Almost two in five primary school pupils are classified as disadvantaged and they are twice as likely as their fellow pupils to begin secondary school struggling to read and write. Without good literacy skills by the end of primary school, the educational prospects for this group are bleak. If they perform in line with previous pupils like them, just one in ten will go on to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths.

Focusing particularly on the schools with the highest numbers of disadvantaged pupils and greatest literacy challenges, the EEF and Northern Rock Foundation will spend £8m directly funding both programmes that have already been evaluated by the EEF with good results and new interventions which show promise.

In addition, the EEF will recruit a network of advocates to develop strong relationships with schools across the North East, especially those in the most disadvantaged areas, to support them to use the latest evidence to ensure high quality literacy teaching and learning for their pupils. All schools in the North East will benefit from new resources made available during the campaign, including guidance on the best ways to improve literacy skills in the early years and primary stages.

Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“We know that good literacy is absolutely fundamental to success in secondary school and later in life, but your chance of leaving primary school without decent reading and writing skills is significantly increased if you come from a poor home.

“The North East is an area with a large proportion of disadvantaged pupils so I’m pleased that, together with Northern Rock Foundation, we are able to make a significant and long-term commitment to make sure that all 11 year-olds are able to read and write well. We hope the Campaign will leave a lasting legacy of evidence-based programmes and effective practice in the region, building on the good work already underway in schools.”

Dame Jackie Fisher, trustee of Northern Rock Foundation, said today:

“All the evidence shows that children who do not read well by age eleven have significantly less chance of achieving good GCSEs and of moving into work. We hope this Programme will help to break a cycle of poor literacy amongst disadvantaged children in the North East, and improve the lives and employability of young people across our region.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by The Sutton Trust, as lead charity in partnership with Impetus Trust (now part of Impetus–The Private Equity Foundation), with a £125m founding grant from the Department for Education.. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £57 million to 115 projects working with over 700,000 pupils in over 6,200 schools across England.
  2. The Northern Rock Foundation is an independent grant making charity which aims to tackle disadvantage and improve quality of life in the North East and Cumbria. The Foundation closed its main grant programmes in December 2014 and is no longer accepting applications. During 2015 the Foundation has been progressing a series of special awards and projects to achieve long term positive impact on the lives of children and young people in the region, and also to support the development and sustainability of voluntary organisations. This will form the last phase of the Foundation's work before its likely eventual closure in 2016.