UCL News


Gillian Anderson joins pupils at Islington Primary School in support of reading campaign

19 January 2016

Today UCL celebrated the start of its 2016 Reading Recovery Read Aloud (Read Aloud) campaign, which is being led by the International Literacy Centre (ILC) based at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), to raise awareness of literacy issues of school children.

Gillian Anderson reading with children

Actor Gillian Anderson joined pupils and teachers at the William Tyndale Primary School in Islington, London to listen to students demonstrate how their reading skills have improved as a result of working with the ILC and its Reading Recovery programme. The visit was also attended by UCL President and Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, and Interim Director of the IOE, Professor Andrew Brown who also spent time listening to children reading.

Alongside Gillian, Gareth Bale and Janet Street-Porter are also champions of the campaign which was launched last year. Read Aloud gained so much support in 2015 – with contributions also from Little Mix, Sir Quentin Blake, and Sir Tony Robinson – that this year’s campaign will run for the whole of February with a series of events, continuing onto March when ITV CEO Adam Crozier will listen to children read at their studios.

Gillian said: “Being able to read and enjoy books is such a vital skill for children to acquire, and is crucial to their life chances. It’s an honour to be able to support Reading Recovery Read Aloud, and to witness first-hand how children such as those at William Tyndale Primary School have benefited from the work done by the International Literacy Centre. These children have not just learned to read, they now have the confidence to let their voice be heard.”

Each year approximately 20% of children leave primary school not being able to adequately read, many of these children come from the poorest sectors of society and this figure rises to 33% among children from the most deprived backgrounds, with literacy problems being linked social issues, including and crime, poverty, depression and poor health. Research has shown that up to 120,000 eleven year olds enter secondary education without having reached their expected average reading age.

Over the last 25 years the IOE has helped thousands of children with literacy difficulties learn how to read through Reading Recovery -  a programme which helps children who have had serious reading difficulties catch-up with their classmates.

Research has shown that more than 85% of six year old children who completed a 20 week Reading Recovery programme progressed from being the lowest achievers in their class to catching up with their peers. Key Stage 2 reading tests for 11 year olds showed that Reading Recovery children had maintained progress and achieved average reading test results for their age.

Professor Michael Arthur said: “At UCL we value highly the extensive work that our Institute of Education has been doing for many years with Reading Recovery, and the results that this has had in improving literacy for struggling readers. The ‘Read Aloud’ campaign is a great initiative for raising awareness of these children's achievements, and I am so pleased that Gillian Anderson has taken the time to come along to William Tyndale Primary School this morning to listen to the children read and see first-hand how they have benefited.”

Read Aloud is part of Read On. Get On. - a campaign led by a coalition, of which Save the Children is a leading member, to get all UK children reading well and with pleasure at age 11 by 2025. David Walliams, Mylene Klass, Helen Skelton, and Lauren Laverne are among the celebrities who have backed this campaign.

Gareth Jenkins, Director of UK Poverty at Save the Children said: “Reading unlocks a child's future. It fuels their imagination and sits at the heart of the skills that will determine their employability and happiness. Yet thousands of children leave primary school every year without this basic skill. The Read On. Get On. campaign is mobilising the UK to ensure that every child is reading well at aged 11 by 2025. This fantastic celebration of the importance of literacy skills and the joy that reading brings is making an important contribution to our goal of ensuring every child not only appreciates the long-term benefits of reading but also enjoys the pleasure of doing so.”



  • Gillian Anderson with pupils at William Tyndale School, Islington (image courtesy of Tim Kavanagh)


James Russell

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 8516

Email: james.russell [at] ucl.ac.uk