Education & Family

Give low cost classics to schools, says Nicky Morgan

Portrait of Charles Dickens Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Morgan wants all youngsters to enjoy classic works by authors like Dickens

The classics of English literature should be given to England's secondary schools by leading publishers at low cost, the education secretary has said.

Nicky Morgan called for books by authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte to be made available so all pupils can enjoy them.

The government is also offering new resources to help get children reading before they start school.

Author David Walliams is backing the push to get more children reading.

'Best in Europe'

At a speech, made during a visit to Charles Dickens Primary School, in Southwark, south-London, Ms Morgan will say: "If a child fails to learn how to read - the consequences can be nothing short of devastating, holding them back for the rest of their lives

"I am absolutely determined to make sure that every child, no matter where they live or what their background, learns to read, to read widely and to read well - giving them the best opportunity to get on in life.

"In fact, we're going further than that - in the next five years, I want children in this country to become the best readers in Europe."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Author David Walliams is supporting Ms Morgan's literacy campaign

International surveys show that nine and 10-year-olds in England are currently ranked sixth in Europe - although the best readers in this country are already the best readers in Europe.

Ms Morgan also wants to see school libraries stocked with the classics.

She said: "Our ambition is that every secondary school should have sets of a wide range of classics so that whole classes can enjoy them together - books I loved as a teenager by authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Emily Brontë.

"I am delighted that a number of publishers are currently exploring how to make collections of our greatest novels available to schools at minimal cost - and I encourage more to get involved."

And she says she wants to tackle the "long tail of underachievement" which is leaving too many children behind, especially the most disadvantaged.

The government is also continuing with its push to get children learning to read with what it describes as good quality phonics schemes.

The campaign also includes a partnership with the Reading Agency to create at least 200 new book clubs across England and a push to get every eight-year-old enrolled at their local library.

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