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News story

Labour's education failure laid bare by new statistics

Friday, December 17 2010

Michael Gove

The government has published new statistics that show the true extent of illiteracy across the country and provide a damning assessment of how Labour failed on education.

The figures show that thousands of children fail to reach level 3 at Key Stage 2 which means that, at 11 years old, they have a reading age of seven.

Of particular concern are boys, for whom the figure is 9 per cent whilst in some areas of the country, the situation is even worse. In Nottingham, for example, the figure is 15% and in Manchester, Derby and Barking it's 14%.

Commenting, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, said:

"It's a terrible indictment of the last 13 years that we have had so many children leaving primary school incapable of reading. Despite billions of spending, Labour failed to deal with this problem particularly in disadvantaged areas." 

The government is taking decisive action to put this right. Next year a reading check at the age of six will be introduced to identify children who are struggling so that they can receive support.

The government is also requiring that Ofsted inspect schools on the reading schemes they are using and ensuring that systematic synthetic phonics - the most effective and traditional method of ensuring literacy - is embedded in all schools. Unlike Labour, the government is also allowing primary schools to become academies, thereby gaining greater control and freedom to focus on the basics.

"There are many brilliant primary schools but some have been underperforming and we need a tougher line," continued Gove. 

"The weakest schools will have to shape up or we'll change the leadership.  We want to ensure that those schools where children are not being taught to read are tackled.  Because ultimately, if you do not get a child reading by the time that they leave primary school, when they arrive at secondary school the curriculum is just a closed book to them, literally."

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