'Championing the rights of children'

'Unacceptable gap in reading results must be addressed', says minister

Garry Tue 31 Mar 2015 11:05

Speaking at the weekend, Nick Gibb said more must be done to address the significant disparity between local authority results in reading tests for six-year-olds.
Certain areas of the country are falling behind in the number of pupils passing a check designed to test the reading skills of six-year-olds, the Schools Minister said in a speech at the weekend.

According to Nick Gibb, local education authorities including Derby, Leicester, Norfolk and Nottingham are failing to reach 70 per cent of Year One pupils passing the test, compared with a success rate of more that 81 per cent in areas such as Darlington and Solihull.

The figures represent a "significant disparity" and were labelled "unacceptable" by the minister.

Speaking at the Reading Reform Foundation conference at the weekend, Mr Gibb, said the effective teaching of reading in schools was "absolutely crucial".

He attacked critics of the phonics check, saying that there was a "substantial body of evidence" to indicate that systematic synthetic phonics is the most effective way to teach children to read.

"In Government, we’ve made sure that our far-reaching reforms in education are grounded firmly in evidence, that’s why we have changed the curriculum to be even more explicit to what the law is in relation to phonics," he said.

"Poor literacy disadvantages young people during the course of their education and continues to hold them back throughout adult life. The OECD survey of adult skills, published in 2013, showed that unemployed adults are twice as likely to have poor literacy as those who are in full-time employment."

The phonics check, introduced by the Coalition Government in 2012, tests pupils at the end of Year One to see how many words and non words out of 40 they can successfully decode. The test includes made-up words such as "voo", "thazz" and "terg", to make sure pupils are properly using the system, and aims to identify those pupils who may need more support.

Read more... (Daily Telegraph - 30 March)