The new primary national curriculum for English, introduced in September 2014, sets more rigorous and challenging content. It has been designed to ensure that all children can leave primary school fully literate and ready to progress to secondary school.
We have strengthened the requirements on learning to read through systematic synthetic phonics as evidence shows this to be the most effective way of teaching all children to read. We have introduced the phonics screening check at age 6 to determine which children require additional support. The result from this year’s phonics screening check show that, three years on from its introduction, 100,000 more six-year-olds (based on 2014 cohort numbers) are now on track to become confident readers. Between September 2011 and October 2013 the Government provided up to £3,000 in match funding to each state funded school with pupils in Years 1 and 2 to enable them to buy effective, systematic synthetic phonics resources and training for their teachers. Through this scheme over 14,000 schools claimed a total of over £23.7 million.
The new national curriculum places a greater focus on the importance of accurate spelling and grammar so we have introduced a new Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test at Key Stage 2. The 2014 Key Stage 2 results show that our reforms are already having an effect; a record proportion of children (89%) reached the expected standard of reading. Attainment in reading has increased for disadvantaged pupils to 78% in 2013, up from 73% in 2011.