Press release: Government drive to help more children become confident readers

Children across the country are set to receive a boost to their early reading thanks to a new government drive which will help excellent schools share their expertise and make sure more children are mastering the basics.

To mark World Book Day, Schools Minister Nick Gibb today (3 March 2016) announced a series of roadshow events to promote effective phonics teaching and early reading, enabling more schools to benefit from methods which are already helping 120,000 more children each year learn to read.

The new drive has been launched in response to the latest phonics screening check results, which show that despite strong progress there are still regional variations in the proportion of children reaching the expected standard in reading by the end of year 1.

Speaking on World Book Day, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

This government’s drive to tackle illiteracy will help make sure no child is allowed to fall behind in learning to read.

World Book Day offers us all a chance to celebrate the exciting doors which reading can open and it is phonics that provides the key to unlocking a lifetime of books.

Thanks to our relentless focus on phonics and the hard work of teachers, thousands more children every year are being given the tools to become confident and independent young readers. These events, delivered by some of our best schools, will help spread that excellence further so no child misses out on the joy reading brings.

Ruth Miskin Training, who already work with schools to deliver effective phonics teaching, have been selected to deliver the roadshow events and will work with phonics partnership schools to deliver the events throughout March. The events will allow schools to share best practice in the teaching of phonics and early reading and support the government’s aim of ensuring high-quality systematic synthetic phonics in every primary school.

In total, 10 events will be held across the country with areas chosen based on performance in the latest phonics screening check results.

The government wants every child to achieve to the best of his or her ability regardless of prior attainment, location or background. All primary schools should have a rigorous and proven systematic synthetics phonics programme in place to achieve excellence in phonics teaching so pupils are able to decode words to an age appropriate standard.

The latest figures show that 3 years on from the introduction of the phonics reading check, 120,000 more children across the country are now on track to become excellent readers.

Achieving the expected standard in the phonics reading check is a strong indicator of a pupil’s performance in wider reading assessments.

Of those year 1 pupils that met the expected standard in the check in 2014, 99% went on to achieve the expected level in reading at the end of key stage 1 in 2015.

In September 2015, the Department for Education announced its ambition to be the best in Europe for reading by 2020. This built on the government’s literacy campaign which includes:

  • funding the Reading Agency to extend their popular Chatterbooks scheme which has led to 200 new book clubs being opened in primary schools since September last year
  • supporting the Reading Agency to work with schools and get more year 3 pupils enrolled at their local library to help them get into the library habit early
  • working with leading publishers to offer schools low cost copies of classic books – in February this year Penguin Classics launched their ‘Classics in Schools‘ initiative which gives schools access to classroom sets of up to 100 titles at a reduced price

Notes to editors

  1. Phonics is an internationally proven method of teaching reading by giving children the building blocks they need to decode words. The phonics reading check, given to all pupils in year 1, was introduced in 2012 to ensure pupils are making the right progress in learning to read and allows teachers to identify those in danger of falling behind.
  2. The new national curriculum introduced in September 2014 requires children to be taught phonics knowledge and skills as the route to decoding words. Read the English programme of study online.
  3. Funding for 8 school-led phonics partnerships was announced on 14 July 2015. Partnerships will each receive £10,000 in 2015 to 2016 to improve the quality of phonics teaching. Each partnership is led by a high-performing school with a track record of leading improvement activity.
  4. Schools and teachers that wish to book a place at one of the phonics events, should visit the Ruth Miskin Training website.

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