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Basic Skills: Primary Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 64950, tabled on 22 February 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the potential implications for her policies of data published by Save the Children in February 2017 on the number of children at risk of finishing primary school without important skills in English by 2020.

Answered on

1 March 2017

Reaching a high level of fluency in reading and writing by the end of primary school is fundamental to achievement in education and critical for everyday life. We want all children, regardless of their background, to leave primary school able to read and write to a high standard.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for the provision of development and care from birth to age five. This includes a focus on literacy, communication and language. The EYFS Profile results have shown an increase in the percentage of children achieving a good level of development – from 51.7% in 2013 to 69% in 2016.

The results from the 2016 EYFS Profile show that 72.1% of children achieved at least the expected level in all early learning goals in literacy in 2016 compared with 60.7% in 2013. For communication and language 81.6% of children achieved at least the expected level in all learning goals in communication and language compared to 72.2% in 2013.

The English curriculum introduced in 2014 places a renewed focus on phonics, as evidence shows that systematic synthetic phonics is the most effective approach to teaching young children to read.

To boost the quality of phonics teaching, we provided £23.7 million in match funding to over 14,000 primary schools, enabling them to buy systematic synthetic phonics products and training. The results from this year’s phonics screening check show that, since the introduction of the phonics check in 2012, over 147,000 more six year olds are now on track to become excellent readers. Almost 9 in 10 pupils (89%) who met the expected standard of phonic decoding in year 1 went on to reach the expected standard in reading at the end of Key Stage 1.

The Year 7 Catch-up Premium provides additional funding for secondary schools to support pupils who did not reach the expected level in reading and/or mathematics by the end of primary school.