The minister for schools said today that it was time to begin driving up reading standards in England's schools, declaring that the coalition government was "unashamedly ambitious" when it came to improving standards.
As the Department for Education (DfE) announced that one-third of children taking part in a pilot phonics check achieved the level expected of them, the government used the results to argue that Phonics is the "proven" method by which standards will be raised.
Some 80 per cent of pupils routinely meet expectations when it comes to their reading levels at the ages of seven and 11, but Mr Gibb is targeting the final fifth of pupils who do not reach their target.
"We need to face up to the uncomfortable truth that, despite the hard work of teachers, not enough of our children are able to read to a high enough standard," the minister said.
Announcing that the government would pursue policy which included synthetic phonics at the forefront of reading education, Mr Gibb added: “We have to take account of our place internationally and listen to business leaders concerned about many school leavers' literacy.”
Business leaders have repeatedly urged the government to take action to address the poor levels of literacy in British school leavers, while government statistics show that over 80,000 seven-year-olds have a reading age of a five-year-old.
Ten per cent of 11-year-olds meanwhile cannot read better than a child aged seven, the DfE says.
According to a 2009 PISA world reading study, England is ranked as 25th in the world when it comes to reading ability, while the same organisation puts English 15-year-olds 18 months behind their counterparts in Shanghai.
Speaking in the context of the recent study which revealed that 32 per cent of the six-year-olds who took part in a screening check reached the "appropriately challenging" level expected of them, the schools minister said that the teaching method gives a solid grounding from which to build on.
The phonics check pilot was conducted over the summer among Year 1 pupils in around 300 different schools.
Posted by Tim Colman