Today the Department for Education released the 2015 results of the phonics tests taken by pupils at the end of Year 1 and the assessments in reading, writing and mathematics taken by pupils the end of Year 2.
They show that more than three-quarters of 6-year-olds passed the phonics test – the third year running that results have risen.
The statistics show that 77 per cent of children reached the expected level in 2015, up from 74 per cent last year and 69 per cent in 2013.
In the test children are asked to read from a list of 40 words, which include 20 real words and 20 nonsense words.
Almost two-thirds (64.7 per cent) of pupils on free school meals passed the phonics test, compared with 79.2 per cent of all other pupils. The gap of 14.5 percentage points is one percentage point smaller than last year.
Percentage of Year 1 pupils, by free school meals status, passing phonics test
But despite the rise in phonics scores, the rise in reading scores for children at the end of Year 2 have not been as dramatic.
This year 90 per cent of 7-year-olds reached the expected level 2 in reading, the same proportion as last year. There was an increase in writing from 86 per cent to 88 per cent. Mathematics scores increased by one percentage point to 93 per cent.
Percentage of Year 2 pupils reaching level 2 in reading, writing and maths
Schools minister Nick Gibb said the government would continue to challenge the local authorities where children achieved lower phonics results.
The ten authorities with the lowest results in phonics this year