Press release

100,000 more pupils on track to succeed in reading via phonics

Phonics check results show more pupils are now doing well.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Three years on from the introduction of the phonics reading check, 100,000 more children are now on track to become excellent readers, figures released today (25 September 2014) reveal.

The check, given to all pupils in year 1, ensures pupils are making the right progress in learning to read and allows teachers to identify those in danger of falling behind.

The figures show that for 2014:

  • the proportion of 6-year-olds achieving the expected standard has risen by 16 percentage points since 2012 to 74% (474,000 pupils), equivalent to 102,000 more children doing well, based on the 2014 cohort

  • the proportion of 6-year-olds achieving the expected standard rose by more than 5 percentage points, equivalent to nearly 24,000 pupils, in just 1 year

  • the gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and their peers achieving the expected level has closed by 1 percentage point since 2012

Alongside the introduction of the check the government made more than £20 million available for schools to buy and develop resources for teaching phonics - an internationally proven method of teaching reading by giving children the building blocks they need to understand words.

Those who do not reach the threshold in the light-touch check are given extra reading help by their teachers so they catch up early in their school career, before it is too late.

Today’s figures show that the proportion of pupils reaching the expected phonics standard a year later at age 7 has also increased, meaning those having to retake the check are benefiting from increased support from teachers. Schools have received extra funding and advice for teaching phonics. The government has also strengthened the requirement in teacher training for new teachers to understand the theory and teaching of phonics.

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said:

For too long thousands of young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, were allowed to slip through the net and fall behind in reading.

This government’s drive to tackle illiteracy is putting a stop to that, and these results show that more and more schools are using phonics well, in order to get their pupils reading properly.

Today’s figures provide irrefutable evidence that our plan for education is working for young people across Britain with 100,000 more 6-year olds now on track to become proficient readers as a result of our relentless emphasis on phonics. Had we not done so, those pupils would still be struggling today.

Figures also published today show a rise in 7-year-olds fulfilling their potential in key stage 1 reading tests:

  • the proportion of pupils achieving the expected level (level 2) or above has increased from 85% in 2010 to 90% in 2014 - a rise of approximately 31,000 pupils (based on 2014 cohort numbers)

  • the proportion achieving level 3 has increased from 26% to 31% - a rise of approximately 31,000 pupils (based on 2014 cohort numbers)

Notes to editors:

  1. View ‘Phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments: England 2014’ statistics.

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Published 25 September 2014