Newham rises up the phonics ranks

30 September 2016 in Education and Mayor
A report published by the Department f​or Education today shows an east London borough has seen a stratospheric increase in the performance of its children in reading and writing using phonics.
​Phonics is an internationally proven method of teaching reading by giving children the building blocks they need to decode words.

The report highlights that since 2012, Newham’s national position in the phonics screening check has improved from 27th to 3rd, with 87 per cent of its pupils passing the screening check in 2016.

Westminster came second with 88 per cent and first was Richmond and Thames with 89 per cent of its pupils passing the check.

Richmond and Westminster have 2,560 and 1,548 pupils respectively who took the test. Newham’s cohort for the screening check was 4,948 pupils, highlighting that despite having more pupils than the top two performing local authorities combined, Newham managed to get a much higher number of pupils up to the expected level. 

Newham’s results also demonstrated that the percentage of the borough’s boys passing the screening check was 86 per cent compared to 80 per cent in London and 77 per cent nationally. Newham’s performance for boys ranked second both nationally and in London.

The percentage of the borough’s girls passing the screening check was 89 per cent compared to 86 per cent of girls in London and 84 per cent nationally. Newham’s performance for girls ranked fifth nationally and third in London.

Newham’s tremendous results can be attributed to the work of the borough’s schools and teaching staff and the roll out of the Reading Guarantee. The Reading Guarantee was introduced in autumn 2011 by Mayor Sir Robin Wales with the backing of Newham’s schools.

The programme aims to help primary school pupils from five to seven years old to improve their reading. This programme is the biggest of its type in the country and comprises three elements:
  • the teaching of reading in schools using a structured phonics programme
  • reading volunteers to help children to develop their skill in and enjoyment of reading
  • one to one tuition to help those children who are behind their peers to catch-up.
Staffordshire University evaluated the one-to-one support element of the scheme and found participation in this part of the programme accounted for a substantial and persistent increase in reading.

The programme also helped pupils to sustain their learning from Year 1 into Year 2 and by the end of KS1, 85 percent of Year 1 children who were behind caught up with their peers. 

Sir Robin Wales Mayor of Newham, said: “The ability to read is vital for young people to achieve their potential, both academically and in life. These results prove the approach we have adopted in Newham is working. 

“Programmes we have invested in like the Reading Guarantee and the fantastic work of our schools are making a remarkable difference to our children’s results and helping them to succeed as well as those in leafier boroughs.”