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Children: Literacy

Question for Department for Education

UIN 174276, tabled on 23 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the aims of the Turn on the Subtitles campaign that encourages television companies to provide subtitles on children's TV programmes as a default to help improve child literacy rates.

Answered on

31 March 2021

The Government is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards, ensuring all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can read fluently and with understanding. By ensuring high quality phonics teaching, the Government wants to improve literacy levels to give all children a solid base upon which to build as they progress through school and help children to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

Turn on the Subtitles (TOTS) is a campaign to persuade broadcasters to turn on same language subtitles by default for children’s television (Key Stage 2 and 3). The Department has recently made an assessment of the evidence behind the TOTS campaign and the current evidence is inconclusive over whether turning on the subtitles improves children’s reading.

It is the choice of parents and guardians whether their child watches television with subtitles on.