Literacy levels are stalling in English schools warns Ofsted chief.

ImageBy Frederick Harris

Literacy Levels in England are falling behind those in other countries, the chief Ofsted schools inspector said yesterday.

In a speech to literacy experts in west London Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that progress had stalled since 2008 and that a “no-excuse culture” had to be fostered to get pupils reading.

Currently 1 in 5 pupils fail to reach expected literacy levels by the end of primary school, and Sir Michael has called for targets to raised.

He said: “There can be no more important subject than English. It is at the heart of our culture and literacy skills are crucial to pupils’ learning for all subjects.

“Yet too many pupils fall behind in their literacy early on. In most cases, if they can’t read securely at seven they struggle to catch up as they progress through their school careers.

“As a result, too many young adults lack the functional skills to make their way in the modern world.”

Adrian Prandy from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said Sir Michael’s claims were “scaremongering”. Referring to the latest Ofsted report, he said:

“The evidence doesn’t suggest that it’s all doom and gloom. There are more strengths in there than weaknesses”

The general secretary of the teachers’ union NASUWT Chris Keates accused Wilshaw of “picking and choosing” facts to support his opinion.

Wilshaw proposed a ten point plan in his speech to improve literacy levels.

He recommended updating parents on their children’s reading age, a ‘phonics’ method of teaching reading, and prioritising Ofsted inspection of schools with low literacy levels.

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