Schools minister Nick Gibb said the government is concerned that the attainment gap between wealthy children and those eligible for free school meals "remains so stubbornly high".
He was speaking after figures released by the Department for Education revealed that only 30.9 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved five A* to C-grade GCSEs in subjects including English and maths last year, compared to 58.5 per cent of those not eligible.
"To help raise academic standards for all young people, we are concentrating our efforts on improving reading ability in our primary schools by introducing a progress check at age six and focusing on phonics," Mr Gibb said.
He noted that the government is reforming the curriculum to ensure that children leave school with the essential knowledge they need for life.
The government is supporting teachers and school principals to instil a zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour, Mr Gibb added.