England has moved up the international league table for teaching reading. The Programme of International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the international comparison of reading teaching achievement, has published results showing that England went from nineteenth place in 2006 to eleventh place in 2011.
Of the 45 countries participating in the Study, Hong Kong, the Russian Federation, Finland and Singapore topped the list. Students were tested at the age of nine and a half years.
Speaking at an event organised by the charitable think-tank Reform, Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, claimed that England’s improvements in teaching reading were linked to the commitment of successive governments to synthetic phonics. She highlighted the importance of the 2006 Rose review, commissioned by the previous Labour Government, and the current administration’s implementation of the phonics check to identify those pupils needing additional help with reading.
The Coalition Government has also been running a programme of match-funding of up to £3000 for all state-funded schools in England with Key Stage 1 pupils to help them to buy approved systematic synthetic phonics products and training.
“Long-term research projects in the UK and abroad have confirmed that the early and effective use of systematic synthetic phonics can all but eliminate illiteracy”, said Mrs Truss.
Chris Jolly, of phonics company Jolly Learning, also welcomed the news of England’s rise up the PIRLS ranking, but cautioned that much work still needs to be done. “We need to work harder in reducing the wide range of achievement in England, and the huge difference between girls and boys which is unreasonably high”, he said.
The PIRLS report can be accessed at: