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Virendra Sharma pledges to tackle literacy challenge in Ealing, Southall

Virendra Sharma MP has committed to taking action to address the literacy challenge in Ealing, Southall, as new analysis from the National Literacy Trust and Experian reveals that the local depths of England’s literacy crisis is putting children’s futures in jeopardy.

The analysis shows that:

  • Ealing, Southall is ranked 161 out of 533 constituencies in England, where 1 is most in need of literacy support
  • Six out of Seven wards in the area were identified as having significant literacy issues  
  • In London, Ealing, Southall is ranked 36 in greatest need of literacy support

Experian analysed data on the social factors most closely associated with low literacy, including levels of education, income and unemployment, to create a literacy vulnerability score for every electoral ward and parliamentary constituency in England [2].

This brand new measure provides a new and deeper understanding about a long-standing problem, identifying the areas with the most acute literacy problems and pinpointing where the greatest support is required. It shows that the majority of constituencies in England (86%) contain at least one ward with serious literacy issues.

Virendra Sharma MP attended a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy on Monday 6 February, where the analysis was presented. The National Literacy Trust and Experian shared Ealing, Southall’s literacy vulnerability score and the social factors underpinning it. Virendra Sharma MP was given detailed information on the prevalence of factors that make people in Ealing, Southall vulnerable to literacy issues, highlighting where action is most urgently needed.  

Virendra Sharma MP said:

Access to literacy skills is incredibly important for my constituents. Too many people in Ealing, Southall are being let down by the government’s lack of action. In an increasingly competitive economy it is important that both children and adult learners are given the opportunity to increase their language skills. It would be a failure of government if millions are left without the skills to work to their full potential.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:  

We welcome Virendra Sharma’s commitment to addressing the specific literacy challenges facing children, families and individuals in Ealing, Southall. For 20 years, the government has addressed England’s widening literacy gap through national strategies. We now know that a new local approach is needed as our work with Experian reveals the country’s literacy challenge to be intensely local. Strong local leadership and partnerships are vital to tackling this and MPs are ideally placed to drive effective local solutions.

We know that local strategies work – we set up a National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough in 2013, which has already had a vital impact on the number of children reaching a good level of development at age five, and has significantly closed the attainment gap with the national average.”

Richard Jenkings, Lead Analytics Consultant at Experian, said: 

“It doesn’t come as a surprise that levels of literacy are strongly related to households and the neighbourhood in which people live, with urban areas facing the biggest challenges. There is a clear correlation between literacy and income, levels of education, long-term unemployment rates, levels of motivation and depression, as well as with intergenerational needs and growing up in a family with no work culture.

However, what shocked me the most in the analysis was just how far reaching the problem of low literacy is in England – it’s on all of our doorsteps, regardless of location. Most regions have at least one area with severe literacy problems. We hope that by making sense of all this data, we have helped lay the foundations for others to transform lives and local communities for the better.”

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