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Hachette UK and National Literacy Trust boost children’s enjoyment of reading and confidence through the Changing the Story Reading Programme

27 November – An analysis of an innovative schools reading programme, published today, shows significant improvements in both reading skills and reading resilience among the children who participated.

Cumulative results from the first two years of Hachette UK’s Changing the Story Reading Programme with the National Literacy Trust, show that the scheme improved pupils’ reading ability, with the percentage of pupils reading at the national average increasing from half before taking part to 2 in 3 after taking part. The percentage of pupils who rated themselves as ‘very good’ readers doubled, and teachers observed that children showed greater resilience in their

Hachette UK’s Changing the Story Reading Programme was created to tackle low levels of literacy and reading enjoyment among primary school children in the UK. The data collected from both pupils and teachers indicates significant improvements in pupils’ reading ability and attitude to reading:

  • Percentage of children whose reading skills were below the national average for their age decreased from 48.9% at the start of the programme to 23% at the end.
  • The percentage of children who said they enjoyed reading ‘very much’ doubled after taking part, from 21.9% to 46.9%.
  • 9 out of 10 teachers said pupils showed greater resilience when it came to applying their phonics skills and decoding unfamiliar words.
  • 9 of 10 teachers agreed that the children’s level of engaging with reading improved, and that children are now more confident in their reading.
  • The percentage of children who said they didn’t enjoy reading at all decreased from 10.9% to 1.6%.
  • 100% of teachers agreed that the books provided had a range of illustrations depicting different cultures and ethnicities.

Launched in 2021, as part of its three-year partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Hachette UK’s Changing the Story reading programme supports over 500 children in 15 primary schools where high numbers of children experience socioeconomic disadvantage. The programme was designed around reading sessions using Hodder Education’s Reading Planet scheme, which celebrates diversity and champions individuality through stories, characters and themes that reflect the world we live in today.

Over 22,000 Reading Planet and Hachette Children’s Group books were donated to the participating schools along with free access to Reading Planet Online and to the National Literacy Trust’s resources and teacher training.

Martin Galway, Head of School Programmes at the National Literacy Trust said: ‘We are delighted to be working in partnership with Hachette UK to address both the will and skill of reading at the early stages of children’s reading journey. Work like this, focused on reading confidence and enjoyment helps children to get off to the best kind of start in discovering the joys of books and all the benefits that they bring. In 2023, we recorded the lowest level of reading
enjoyment since we started asking children and young people about this in 2005. Changing the Story offers a powerful response to some of the challenges that sit behind these shocking statistics.’

Seshni Jacobs, Managing Director, Hodder Education, said: “Our mission is to help every teacher and parent to help every learner to realise their unique potential. Reading Planet and Changing the Story are two important ways in which we work to make a positive impact in education, specifically in promoting and developing a more diverse and representative curriculum. Partnering with the National Literacy Trust is a great way for us to extend this impact and try out new ways of working with teachers and schools. The results from this study show that it is possible to turn a worrying tide in young children’s enjoyment of and confidence in reading, with the right materials and support.”

The report analyses the data collected from Hodder Education’s New Progress in Reading Assessment (New PiRA) tests which reliably benchmark performance and track progress against national averages in reading. The report combines this statistically robust data with results from pre- and post-attitudinal surveys of pupils, and a post-programme survey of teachers.

The full evaluation report of the programme can be found here.