SHAPES for Schools
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Square One

Welcome to Square One, the education blog from SHAPES. We'll be looking at all things schools – from classroom resources to curriculum changes, to what teachers want and how you can help provide it.

The literacy problem: why your business should have a starring role

Last year more than a third (37%) of students failed to achieve A* to C grades in English language and mathematics GCSEs, with an even wider deficit for young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (60.9%). Even more frightening (for the economists among us): research estimates that if every child left primary school with the reading skills they need, our economy could be more than £32.1 billion bigger by 2025 [1].

Children who have low literacy at a young age typically fail to get good grades at school and are most-often locked out of the job market. The scale of the problem is immense. Not only do young people in the UK have some of the poorest literacy levels across OECD countries, but low literacy is entrenched. Analysis by Experian and the National Literacy Trust shows that serious literacy issues exist in 86% of English constituencies.

This surely isn’t an issue that our education system can fix alone. UK businesses can (and should) play a vital role in creating a society where young people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter what their background. It is more important than ever that businesses of all sizes and sectors start thinking creatively about how they can support teachers and children in schools. This includes taking steps to tackle literacy in the local communities where they work, as well as on a national level.

One of our aims at SHAPES is to support clients in doing this. We give businesses the tools they need to help schools overcome some of the challenges they face. Last year, we helped our clients reach more than one million teachers and children by creating bespoke resources and initiatives – taking their areas of expertise directly to classrooms. Not only have our clients reported incredible improvement in teacher engagement with their products, they have also seen tangible examples of children benefiting from their investment.

As former teachers ourselves, we are passionate about creative partnership in education; joining forces with organisations all over the UK to provide solutions. Our job is to help businesses have a powerful role in helping children and young people by giving them the support they need to make a difference. Whether you have one employee or thousands, low literacy is one issue your business can’t afford to ignore. 

[1] Read On. Get On. (2014) How reading can help children escape poverty. Published by Save the Children on behalf of the Read. On. Get On. campaign

Jenny Baldwin