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Decline in pupils' writing outside school stoke fears over attainment

The number of children writing outside school is dropping, a new survey shows

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The number of children writing outside school is dropping, a new survey shows

Only one in five children writes daily outside school – a significant drop from the one child in four who wrote daily two years ago.

And more than a quarter of children say that they rarely or never write something that is not for school, according to a survey of more than 32,000 primary and secondary pupils.

Fewer than half – 44.8 per cent – of the pupils said that they enjoyed writing. This was a considerable drop from the 49.3 per cent who said the same thing in 2014.

Boys were considerably more apathetic about writing than girls. While 50.3 per cent of girls said that they enjoyed writing, only 36.8 per cent of boys did.

'A culture of writers'

The National Literacy Trust, which commissioned the survey, expressed concern that this decline in the enjoyment and practice of writing could have a significant impact on children’s attainment.

The Trust said that children who enjoy writing were seven times more likely to exceed the expected level for their age than those who did not enjoy writing at all.

And children who write outside school are five times more likely to write above the expected level for their age than those who write only in the classroom.

The Trust’s director, Jonathan Douglas, said: “While the focus on spelling and grammar and phonics is important, it must not come at the expense of encouraging writing for enjoyment by teaching the writing process, and encouraging children to write for purpose and audience.

“We must seek to create a culture or community of writers within schools.”

'A lot of fun'

Despite their apathy towards writing, children’s reading continued to grow: 43 per cent read daily in 2015, compared with 29.1 per cent in 2010. And 54.8 per cent said that they enjoyed reading.

Frances Hardinge, award-winning author of The Lie Tree and National Literacy Trust ambassador, said: “Hopefully we can inspire more children and young people to write for pleasure, in much the same way we have seen a heartening rise in recreational reading.

“Regular writing of any sort allows one to develop greater facility and confidence with language. And, more to the point, can be a lot of fun.”

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