Children in England from poorer backgrounds who are struggling with basic literacy skills at the end of primary schooling are to be given help to catch up to their peers.
The £10 million reading and writing catch-up programme is being led by the Education Endowment Foundation and projects will be established across the country to assist those who have not attained the expected level of English by the end of primary school (level four at Key Stage 2).
Schools, charities, local authorities, universities and other organisations are now being invited to bid for a share of the funding in order to offer the classes.
Some programmes will be fast-tracked and start from September, while the rest will begin next year. The projects themselves could start at the end of year six, in the summer between year six and year seven, or in year seven itself.
Results from last year's Key Stage 2 exams show that around one in six pupils fails to master the basics of reading and one in four pupils fails to master the basics of writing by the end of primary school. This adds up to around 100,000 pupils a year who are not at the required standard.
"Every child should start secondary school with a head start - not a false start," said deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
"Reading with confidence is the basis of a good education and to unlocking everything the school curriculum has to offer."
The importance being placed by the coalition government on these Key Stage 2 results underscores the pivotal role of the primary school teacher in preparing pupils for their time at secondary school and beyond.
"Being able to read fluently by the end of primary school is essential. Without these skills children fall further behind in their education," said children's minister Sarah Teather.
Posted by Theo Foulds