‘Literacy hubs’ could be the key to improving schoolchildren’s English skills – particularly among those for whom it is not a first language.

Brent Council’s community and wellbeing scrutiny committee heard that, while schools in the borough perform well overall, progress dips when it comes to reading and writing.

A council report explained that this is partly due to children entering primary education at a later stage or coming to school with few English skills.

John Galligan, head of setting and school effectiveness at Brent Council, explained that improving the wider performance in literacy is a “key priority”.

“We are the borough in London that has the largest number of people arriving late to primary education,” he said.

“Schools have to work very hard to accelerate the development of English for those arriving late – it becomes the focus.”

It was suggested that the establishment of ‘literacy hubs’ in the region – for parents, pupils and schools – could provide guidance on how to improve their approach to teaching and learning English.

The committee heard that a similar programme, which was bankrolled by £500,000 worth of government funding, has been successful for mathematics.

Since September, English hubs have been popping up across the country – but the closest service to Brent is currently in Fulham.

Head teachers from several schools in the borough explained that a broader strategy – both in and out of the classroom – is vital to improving pupils’ performance.

Rose Ashton, head teacher at Chalkhill Primary School in Wembley, said: “It’s about engaging with the families as well and making sure that children have every opportunity to engage with English.”

She was supported by Byron Court Primary School head teacher Martine Clark, who pointed out that “children are not always nurtured with [English] language”.

The committee agreed to note the value of the hubs and to monitor their progress going forward as the council seeks for solutions in improving literacy across Brent.