As we cautiously open up from lockdown, and very much hope that this is the last time, a huge effort is being made to work out what we need to do to recover quickly and most effectively. Plans to address the lost education of our young people and help them find employment are at the very forefront of that effort.
The pandemic and resulting school closures is expected to reverse all progress made to narrow the attainment gap over the past decade. Additional analysis from the Education Endowment Fund shows the learning loss for disadvantaged children and young people is the equivalent to one whole year of schooling. When added to the pre-pandemic literacy problem already among disadvantaged young people where 2 in 5 (43%) 11 year olds already leave primary school unable to read well, this could have a disastrous effect, holding these children back for the rest of their lives – unless we act now.
The National Literacy Trust works across the education, governmental and corporate sectors to determine what we see as the best way to support those most disadvantaged in society and help them thrive in the future. One of the ways which we feel could accelerate recovery is video games and the industry that creates and supports them.
Over the past two years we have been speaking to young people, their families and their teachers about the benefits of video games to young people’s literacy. Anecdotal evidence was recently corroborated by our recent study looking into children’s literacy and video game playing. It found that, through the power and innovation of games, we can influence and engage young people to boost their literacy skills, creativity and empathy. Our research showed that video games inspire young people to read and write more, while 1 in 3 (35%) believe playing video games also makes them a better reader.
We know that video games and video games designers have been creating educational titles for a long time, more and more of which are appearing in our classrooms. However, we feel this needs to be accelerated and games should be fully embedded in the curriculum and into the minds of teachers and parents. Video games have been increasingly seen as a way to promote coding and computer science in education, but there is now an opportunity to shift this focus to literacy. Not only to support the needs of children now who got so much joy and a sense of connection from playing games during lockdown, but also to ensure they have the skills needed in the changing jobs market. Perhaps they could create the games of the future, be the next games narrative designers, marketing directors, e-sports shoutcasters, and so many of the other career paths throughout the industry.
We would like to call on the video games industry to help us change perceptions of video games for teachers, educators and parents and highlight how effective they can be as positive education and social tools for young people. After so much disruption to their education, we must act to give children the support they need to recover.
With the help of the industry we want to launch a national campaign showcasing the benefits of video games in literacy education and provide effective and engaging educational interventions that use video games to re-engage those thousands of young people who are now almost irreparably behind due to the past year.
If you are interested in finding out more about our plans and how you could help us please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). Together we can ensure that these lost months of education do not lead to lost futures.
For more information on the link between video games and literacy, please visit: https://literacytrust.org.uk/information/what-is-literacy/video-games-and-literacy/