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Number of schoolchildren writing for enjoyment 'in decline'

09/11/2016 Joanna

Educators need to take steps to arrest a recent decline in the number of children who are voluntarily writing for pleasure outside of school.

The National Literacy Trust has published a new report called Children's and Young People's Writing in 2015, which surveyed 32,569 pupils aged between eight and 18 and found that increasingly few schoolchildren are spending time writing for fun.

It was shown that only 20.7 per cent of those polled write daily outside the classroom - down significantly from 27.2 per cent in 2014 - while 28.1 per cent said they rarely or never write when not specifically asked to do so by their school.

Only 44.8 per cent of pupils said they enjoy writing either very much or quite a lot - down from versus 49.3 per cent in 2014 - with boys shown to be much more likely than girls to view writing in a negative light.

This could create potential problems in terms of attainment, as it has been shown that youngsters who enjoy writing very much are seven times more likely to write above the level expected for their age compared with those who do not enjoy writing at all.

The waning of writing habits comes in contrast to a rise in the number of students spending time reading every day - up to 43 per cent in 2015 from 29.1 per cent in 2010. This indicates that recent efforts to encourage reading have proven successful, but also that similar initiatives now need to be launched to foster a passion for writing.

National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: "Whilst the new curriculum 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."

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