Uptake of phonics scheme is poor in Portsmouth

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JUST two out of 39 primary schools in Portsmouth have taken advantage of a government initiative to improve reading standards.

The unnamed schools are among 2,500 countrywide that have claimed up to £3,000 to buy synthetic phonics products ahead of new phonics tests for six-year-olds in 2012.

Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching reading which starts with the letter sounds and builds up to blending them together to pronounce full words.

The government is now appealing for more schools in Portsmouth to sign up to the scheme, especially as it is among the nine worst authorities in the country for 11-year-old reading standards.

Just 80 per cent of primary school leavers in the city achieved expected levels of reading compared with 84 per cent nationally.

Nick Gibb, schools minister, said: ‘The lack of action is a cause for concern. This an open invitation to all schools to improve the way they teach systematic synthetic phonics – the tried and tested method that will improve the reading of all our children.’

In Hampshire, where 86 per cent of 11-year-olds reach the expected level in reading, 54 out of 336 schools have claimed funding for products.