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More primary school pupils meet reading standards

Primary school pupils show improvement in their reading ability as attainment in this year’s reading assessment increases since last year.

Education standards continue to improve as new statistics on the phonics screening check published today (12 October) show 79% of five- and six-year-olds met the expected standard, up from 75% last year.

Phonics is a body of knowledge that is necessary for pupils to learn to read and spell, at whatever age. Young children learning to read are taught how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes, as well as the skill of blending the individual sounds together to read.

Improvements in children’s reading ability in English primary schools builds on the international success earlier this year, when England came fourth for primary reading proficiency, out of 43 countries that tested children of the same age in the highly anticipated Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Teaching children to read using phonics has been a key part of this government’s focus on driving up school standards over the past 13 years, and our children are now the best readers in the west. Today’s results reflect the hard work of our teachers and show strong progress as pupils continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The phonics screening check was first introduced in 2012 when only 58% met the expected standard. Since 2012, there has been a 21% point increase in attainment in the check, highlighting the government’s commitment to raising standards across the board.

Literacy and numeracy are the cornerstones of a world-class education. Last week, the Prime Minister announced plans to build on this at post-16 through the new advanced British standard, which will bring together the best of A Levels and T Levels into a single new qualification and make maths and English mandatory.

Raising standards in primary schools is a key priority for this government to set children up with the best start in life. The government established the network of English hubs to support schools to ensure all children are given a strong start in reading. It also introduced a validated list of phonics programmes to ensure schools have access to high-quality programmes.

The £60 million English hubs programme was rolled out in 2018 and is designed to develop expertise in teaching reading in schools. The lead schools work with partner schools by modelling best practice and providing expert teachers to help them raise standards through phonics.

Our network of 40 maths hubs is supporting schools across the country to improve maths teaching based on mastery teaching approaches used by some of the highest performing parts of the world.

The key stage 1 attainment statistics were also published today, showing the number of pupils meeting the expected standards in reading, writing, maths and science increasing from 2022.

This year:

  • 70% of pupils met the expected standards in maths, up from 68% in 2022

  • 68% of pupils met the expected standard in reading up from 67% in 2022

  • 60% of pupils met the expected standard in writing, up from 58% in 2022

  • 79% of pupils met the expected standard in science, up from 77% in 2022.

Since 2010, the proportion of schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted has increased from 68% in 2010 to 88% based on latest data.



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