Why Closing the Word Gap Matters – new research finds evidence of a significant word gap in UK schools

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Category: News

Researchers from the department have contributed to a new report conducted by Oxford University Press, which has found evidence of a significant word gap in UK schools. The word gap refers to children whose lack of vocabulary significantly affects their learning and, as a result, their future life chances. The research surveyed more than 1,300 UK teachers and revealed that almost half of UK pupils are at risk of underperforming academically as a result. The report calls on key organisations, including the Department for Education, to address this issue.

Dr Ian Thompson (Associate Professor of English Education and PGCE Course Director) and Nicole Dingwall’s (PGCE English Curriculum Tutor) article, Why reading for pleasure is a social justice issue, suggests that more should be done to encourage children to read for enjoyment in order to develop the reading comprehension and increase the range of vocabulary needed to engage in learning at school.

“Pupils who do well in school generally read a lot both in and out of school. They were almost certainly read to as a young child and exposed to a choice of a wide variety of texts that helped them to increase the advanced vocabulary demanded by texts at secondary school level.”

The article further indicates that poor literacy skills are common amongst pupils permanently excluded from school and that schools have a major role to play in developing a child’s love of reading by making a wide variety of meaningful and enjoyable texts available.

The report includes articles from a number of experts in the field and calls for a greater dialogue with policymakers about language development throughout education in order to try to close the gap.

Download in full here.