Pupils have no time for classroom reading, primary teachers warn

More than half of UK primary school teachers say that they do not have enough time to read and discuss books in the classroom, a new survey has found

But 92 per cent believe that reading for pleasure is essential to pupils’ success in later life.

In the survey of 349 teachers, conducted by Oxford University Press (OUP), 56 per cent said that they were unable to devote enough classroom time to reading and talking about books.

And 63 per cent said that they thought only half – or fewer – of their pupils read for pleasure outside the classroom. More than a third – 36 per cent – wanted to be able to devote more classroom time to reading.

‘Give them time’

Michael Morpurgo, author of books including War Horse and Private Peaceful and a former children’s laureate, said: “For many children, it is their teacher who will be the first to try to engage them with stories (article free for subscribers).

“However, we have to make this possible. We need to give them the time they need to enjoy stories, poetry and literature – particularly in the early years.”

The OUP survey also found that 93 per cent of teachers believed that it was crucial for pupils to have access to classic stories, if they were to develop a love of reading. Many teachers added that they had been inspired by these stories as children, and now use them in the classroom.

And many current teachers reported that it was their own childhood teachers who had inspired their love of reading.

Jane Harley, of OUP, said: “The primary school years are crucial for children, whatever their social or cultural background, to develop their love of reading.

“It is vital that teachers are able to dedicate the time to helping their pupils engage with stories in the classroom, and to create more space for quality conversations about books.”

Sharing stories

Meanwhile, according to separate research from the National Literacy Trust, many early years teachers are using touchscreens as a means of sharing stories with pupils.

The survey of 450 early years practitioners revealed that 58.2 per cent had access to touchscreens at work last year, up from 41.4 per cent in 2014.

However, the proportion of teachers actually using the screens had decreased. While 49.1 per cent of practitioners used touchscreens to tell stories to children in 2014, only 40.8 per cent did so in 2015. Of these, only 55.1 per cent were confident doing so.

By contrast, 82.2 per cent were confident using books.

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