Narrowing the literacy gap

Our programme has a track record of boosting children’s reading and writing skills.

Supported to catch up

We work with children whose literacy skills are behind national averages and their confidence has been impacted. Through our sessions they grow in self belief and develop the reading and writing skills they need to keep up with the curriculum at secondary school.

We work with children during crucial transition years, from school years 5 to 8.

Children who attend our programme are on average 14 months behind their peers at age nine. This jumps to 28 months behind, by age 11.

Without us, they would be expected to make just four months progress each academic year, falling further and further behind.

Almost a year and half of reading progress

We help children make on average 16 months progress in their reading age within the 9 month programme.

Teachers notice a change too. 87% of teachers surveyed saw an overall improvement as a result of children joining the programme and 75% noticed a boost in literacy skills.

These figures are based on our internal data and surveys of 250 children, from 23 schools.

Imagining, creating, writing

The children create a piece of writing across each half-term. They come up with creative ideas, write first drafts and are supported with edits and feedback.

We publish the children’s work in print or online, giving them a real sense of achievement and a tangible way to celebrate their hard work.


Mariam was shy and afraid to speak up in class. Not anymore. Mariam told us,
‘The Pirates has really helped boost my confidence in speaking aloud, helping me improve my writing by making it to a high standard and making me feel like I am welcomed. Sometimes I felt tired but my crewmates [trained adult volunteer] persuaded me to keep going and don’t stop. I like that because it helps me to keep going.’


Jason joined the Haringey Pirates for after-school sessions on Fridays. He put his all into the first writing project in term one and did not miss a single week. At home time one day, Jason’s mum told us, ‘He absolutely loves it, it is his favourite. He looks forward to coming each week.’

We asked Jason to write the foreword for the Haringey Pirates’ book, The Legends You’ve Never Heard Of, a compilation of true and fantastical stories of how each of the Young Pirates got their names. He not only wrote the foreword but also read it out to a room full of guests at the book launch.

Jason’s reading age advanced by 12 months in less than 6 months with us, meaning he had caught up and was now working to age-related expectations. Jason’s Year 6 teacher told us that after his time with us, he was getting some of the highest grades in his class for English, something that really boosted his confidence.

Form assembly

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