A Department for Education (DfE) programme to encourage schools to buy phonics education materials has seen more than 3,000 primary schools sign up.
Over £7.7 million has so far been spent on products to help primary school teachers conduct phonics lessons, figures released by the DfE today (January 19th) reveal.
The scheme is part of a drive by the government to improve phonics teaching, a method it says is proven to raise reading ability among young children.
Some 3,211 school across England have signed up for the programme, which allows them to take advantage of match funding from the government, up the value of £3,000, for products and services from a phonics catalogue.
In addition to this, 987 schools have signed their staff up for further phonics teacher training, with £1.3 million spent on the courses so far.
In the last month, schools have committed to spend £1.66 million on phonics materials while those signed up to training courses have nearly doubled during the period.
However, schools minister Nick Gibb is concerned that more schools are not taking up the offer of funding.
"This is a chance for schools to gain extra funding to improve reading standards so I am naturally concerned at the number of areas where few schools have not yet taken the opportunity to do so," he said.
"Every week that goes by is another week that children are missing out on the best possible teaching of reading."
While some local authorities are pressing ahead, areas including Bedford, Portsmouth, Luton and Sheffield have not taken up the offer to any meaningful degree, despite having more 11-year-olds failing to reach expected reading standards than the national average.
The programme was launched in September 2011 and state-funded schools teaching Key Stage 1 pupils have until March next year to claim their share of funding should they wish to.