Pupils' reading skills have significantly improved since the introduction of the phonics reading check, the government has announced.
Some 100,000 more children are now on track to become excellent readers since the internationally proven method of teaching was brought in, which boosts reading by giving children the building blocks they need to understand words.
The official figures show that the proportion of six-year-olds achieving the expected standard has risen by 16 percentage points since 2012 to 74 per cent (474,000 pupils). Based on the 2014 cohort, this is equivalent to 102,000 more children doing well.
In addition, the gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and their peers achieving the expected level has narrowed by one percentage point since 2012, while for year two phonics the gap closed by two percentage points.
Some £20 million has been made available by the government to enable schools to purchase and develop resources for teaching phonics.
Extra reading help is available for those who do not reach the threshold in the light-touch check, so that they catch up early in their school career.
There has also been a rise in the number of pupils reaching the expected phonics standard at the age of seven, demonstrating that those having to retake the check are benefiting from increased support from those in teaching jobs.
Extra funding and advice has been made available for teaching phonics, while more emphasis is now placed on the theory during teacher training.
School reform minister Nick Gibb said disadvantaged pupils were previously allowed to fall behind in reading, adding that the government's drive to tackle illiteracy has helped to ameliorate the problem.
"[These] figures provide irrefutable evidence that our plan for education is working for young people across Britain with 100,000 more six-year-olds now on track to become proficient readers as a result of our relentless emphasis on phonics. Had we not done so, those pupils would still be struggling today," he stated.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels