Chase launches new initiative to boost primary school literacy

5 min | 13 December 2021

  • Initial £1 million commitment for primary school libraries is the first in a series of community focussed investments from digital bank Chase.
  • 1 in 4 schools in underserved communities do not have a library or designated reading space, compared to a national average of 1 in 8 schools*.
  • Children across the UK face barriers to reading, with just over 1 in 4 (27%) 11-year-olds in England leaving primary school unable to read well, rising to 2 in 5 (42%) for children in underserved areas**.

London, December 13, 2021 –  Recently launched digital bank Chase has unveiled a major investment in children’s literacy in the UK in the form of an initial £1 million commitment to improve library and reading spaces in primary schools in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and supported by publisher Penguin Random House UK.

The initial £1 million commitment announced today, marks the launch of a series of community focussed investments from Chase in the UK, as part of its 'Chase Rewarding Futures (Opens in new window)' initiative. Further detail on the 'Chase Rewarding Futures' initiative will be revealed over the coming months.

The literacy focused programme will transform 150 primary school libraries and improve access to books and reading materials, reaching approximately 35,000 children in underserved communities across seven key areas: Dundee, Doncaster, Newport, Suffolk, London, Nottingham, and Birmingham.

The programme aims to inspire a love of reading, improve literacy skills and help young people reach their potential, by focusing on driving change both in schools and at home, empowering families, carers, and teachers with the tools and resources needed to inspire children to read, including: 

  • Providing approx. 35,000 primary school children in underserved areas with designated library space, books donated by Penguin Random House UK and e-readers
  • Supporting 21,000 families and carers with guidance and advice on how to support their child with reading (in multiple languages where appropriate), special community and school literacy events, author readings, and access to their local libraries
  • Supporting 150 primary school teachers with bespoke training to equip them with strategies to create a culture of reading for pleasure in their school community, expand their knowledge of children’s literature, and offer tools to transform their reading spaces into hubs of imagination and creativity 

The programme builds on a tried-and-tested model pioneered by the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK, called Puffin World of Stories, which addresses the key issues facing many underserved primary school libraries including lack of time and skills and lack of budget to buy new books.

Recent research from the National Literacy Trust found that 1 in 4 schools in England’s most underserved communities*** do not have a library or designated reading space, compared to a national average of 1 in 8 schools. School libraries have a proven positive impact on all areas of primary pupils’ learning, including the development of reading and writing skills, while not being able to access a school library or a lack of quiet space at home can have a negative impact on a pupil’s ability and motivation to read.

In addition, developing early stage reading skills and a love of reading has a proven positive impact on a young person’s future employability, increasing their chance of success later in life. Recent studies have shown for children under 11 that two in five don’t enjoy reading and three in five don’t read regularly. It is estimated that the UK could see a £4.6 billion boost to GDP per year, within a generation, if all children read for pleasure more****.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK to provide thousands of children with access to the resources, environment, and support they need to develop their literacy skills,” said Sanoke Viswanathan, CEO of Chase in the UK. “Developing early stage reading skills and discovering a love of reading can shape a child’s life, unlocking their potential, and helping to improve their future prospects. Building on JPMorgan Chase’s decades-long support for local communities in the UK, we’re excited about playing a role in supporting primary schools at a time when they need it most.”

“At the National Literacy Trust, we know that having access to books and reading for pleasure in childhood plays a vital role in a child’s well-being, how well they perform in school and their future employability,” said Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Chase on this transformative initiative delivering exciting reading spaces, resources and training in primary schools up and down the country - supporting children to develop a love of reading for years to come.”

“For many years we’ve worked in partnership with the National Literacy Trust to give primary schools the support they need to share the magic of reading with their pupils through our Puffin World of Stories programme,” said Siena Parker, Social Impact Director at Penguin Random House UK. “We’ve seen the transformative impact this can have on the ground. We now need the private, charity and public sector to come together to address the chronic lack of investment in primary school libraries at national level, and that’s why we’re so delighted that this investment from Chase will help to scale this vital and urgent work.”

As part of this commitment, Chase will also join the Primary School Library Alliance in its pledge to transform 1,000 school libraries and support 500,000 pupils’ attainment and wellbeing, alongside the National Literacy Trust and Penguin Random House UK.

*National Literacy Trust, Primary School Library Review report, November 2021

**National Literacy Trust Annual Literacy Survey (conducted January and mid-March 2021).

***Based on student eligibility for free school meals

****The Power of Reading for Pleasure, Oct 2021. British Land, National Literacy Trust and WPI strategy.

About Chase in the UK

Chase is the consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.8 trillion and operations worldwide.

The recently launched UK bank is designed specifically to meet the needs of customers in the country. It will provide a range of banking products and features, having started with a current account. In the UK, Chase is a trading name of J.P. Morgan Europe Limited. J.P. Morgan Europe Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. For more information, go to www.chase.co.uk (Opens in new window).

About the National Literacy Trust

The National Literacy Trust’s mission is to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life. They run Literacy Hubs and campaigns in communities where low levels of literacy and social mobility are seriously impacting people’s lives. They support schools and early years settings to deliver outstanding literacy provision, and campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians, businesses and parents.

National Literacy Trust’s research and analysis make the organisation the leading authority on literacy and drive our interventions. Literacy is a vital element of action against poverty and our work changes children and young people’s life stories. Visit www.literacytrust.org.uk (Opens in new window)to find out more, donate or sign up for our free email newsletter. You can also find us on Facebook (Opens in new window),Twitter (Opens in new window)and Instagram (Opens in new window).

About Penguin Random House UK

At Penguin Random House we make books for everyone, because a book can change anyone. As the UK’s leading publisher we are home to some of the most brilliant authors in the world; including Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Lee Child, Yuval Harari, Nigella Lawson, Charlie Mackesy, Ian McEwan, Nadiya Hussain, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, Philip Pullman, David Attenborough, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith and Jacqueline Wilson; along with over 3,000 different Classics.

Launched in 2018, Puffin World of Stories has to date impacted 225 underserved primary schools across the UK by offering bespoke training, free books from Puffin (part of Penguin Random House UK) and free resources to help breathe new life into reading spaces. 

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