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David Walliams and Nicky Morgan visit Charles Dickens School

Comedian and writer David Walliams joined education secretary Nicky Morgan on a visit to Charles Dickens Primary School in Southwark on Thursday.

The duo visited the school to launch a Government initiative to boost child literacy.

In her speech at the school, the education secretary said: "If a child fails to learn how to read, the consequences can be nothing short of devastating, holding them back for the rest of their lives.

"I am absolutely determined to make sure that every child, no matter where they live or what their background, learns to read, to read widely and to read well – giving them the best opportunity to get on in life.

"In fact, we're going further than that – in the next 5 years, I want children in this country to become the best readers in Europe."

David Walliams said: "At the heart of this campaign is a very simple shared ambition – to get more children reading.

"Few things can compete with the joy of getting stuck into a good book and I believe that is something no child should miss out on."

Nicky Morgan added: "We're also supporting The Reading Agency to get 8-year-olds enrolled at their local library and into the library habit early.

"We know that library users are much more likely to read in their own time than non-library users – accessing the existing 3,142 public libraries open in this country.

"And today I can announce that we will do more to ensure all schools learn from what the best schools, like Charles Dickens Primary, and from what those around the world are doing to make sure every pupil is able to read well."

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