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Children: Literacy

Question for Department for Education

UIN 217192, tabled on 4 December 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will visit Bradford West constituency to observe the issue of children who are leaving primary school who are unable to read well; and if she will take steps to eradicate that problem.

Answered on

11 December 2014

The Government is committed to eliminating illiteracy and wants all children to read easily, fluently and with good understanding. Our new English curriculum places a renewed focus on the requirement for pupils to learn to read through systematic synthetic phonics, as evidence shows this is the most effective approach to early reading. We do not have plans to introduce a national task force for literacy as we believe poor reading outcomes are best addressed through the implementation of the English curriculum and the other steps we have taken to improve literacy levels for all children, alongside measures to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. The Department believes that good headteachers are best placed to support the needs of their pupils.

To boost the quality of phonics teaching, we have provided £23.7 million in match funding to over 14,000 schools, enabling them to buy systematic synthetic phonics products and training. We have also introduced a phonics screening check. The first three years of the check have enabled teachers to identify nearly 568,000 six-year-olds who needed extra support.

For pupils who do not reach the expected level in reading by the end of primary school, we have introduced the Year 7 Catch-up Premium. This funding – £500 per pupil – enables secondary schools to deliver additional support for those pupils that most need it.

The Government has also committed £8.8 billion of pupil premium funding for schools in England for the period between 2011-12 and 2015-16. The pupil premium gives schools the extra resources they need to close the attainment gap between those from poorer and wealthier backgrounds, including in reading outcomes.

The 2014 Key Stage Two results show that our reforms are already having an effect: a record proportion of children (89%) reached the expected standard of reading (up three percentage points from last year). Attainment in reading has increased for disadvantaged pupils from 73% in 2011 to 78% in 2013, an increase of five percentage points.

Unfortunately, pressures on the diary of my Rt hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, mean she cannot promise to visit Bradford.