Only three in five six-year-olds passed the controversial Year 1 phonics test, according to official figures.
The Department for Education revealed that 58 per cent of pupils had reached the expected standard (a score of 32 out of 40) on the Key Stage 1 exams that test the child's ability to break down and blend words using systematic synthetic phonics.
Education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss said that "the reading check helps teachers identify those pupils who need extra help in learning to read".
However, Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, argued that those in teaching jobs need to be allowed to explore a variety of methods for helping children to read.
"Decoding using synthetic phonics can be a useful tool for teachers but it is nonsense for it to be the basis of a blanket test," she said.
"The aim is that all children learn to read for pleasure. A mechanistic approach will not guarantee that."
Posted by Theo Foulds