Literacy: Children

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of trends in the number of children daily reading unaided in England.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department does not hold data on the number of children daily reading unaided in England. The Department does, however, hold figures on pupils’ performance in reading assessments. This is an indicator of pupils’ ability to read unaided. A new, more rigorous national curriculum has been taught in primary schools since September 2014 and new tests and assessments based on this curriculum were first taken by pupils in summer 2016. Since 2016, the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard in the reading test at the end of key stage 2 has risen from 66% to 75% in 2018.

Regarding pupils in the earlier stages of reading, in 2018 there were 163,000 more 6 year olds in England on track to become fluent readers compared to in 2012. This represented 82% of pupils meeting the expected standard in the year 1 phonics screening check, compared to just 58% when the check was introduced in 2012. Regarding pupils who met the expected standard in phonics in year 1 in 2013, 88% went on to meet the expected standard in the key stage 2 reading test in 2018.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th place to joint 8th place in the most recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study rankings. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum and a particular focus on phonics.

A national network of 32 primary schools across England has been appointed to become English Hubs, backed by £26.3 million funding. In addition to improving the teaching of phonics and early language development, these schools will champion reading for pleasure in the schools that they support.

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