Teachers failing pupils to develop a love of reading


Schools are failing to instil their pupils with a lifelong love of reading because teachers are losing the art of reading stories aloud to children, according to a new Ofsted report.

The report also said that tens of thousands of children who pass English tests for 11-year-olds cannot then cope with secondary education because primary school standards were ‘too low’.

Ofsted urged ministers to set tougher targets because many who achieve the expected levels then fall behind at secondary school.

Following visits to 268 primary and secondary schools, inspectors highlighted a list of poor practices including a failure to correct pupils’ spelling and grammar mistakes.

In some secondary schools, pupils spend too much time reading holiday brochures and writing letters of complaint instead of studying the classics.

They are also given too many short extracts instead of whole books, meaning they fail to develop their ‘reading stamina’.

In primary schools, more than half of teachers have such a poor grasp of the subject they can name no more than two poets, while many are losing the habit of reading aloud to pupils.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, warned that one in five children – around 100,000 – fail to achieve expected literacy levels at 11. And nearly half of those who do scrape a pass – a level four – fail to gain C grades in English GCSE  five years later.

The report recommends rapid improvements in the teaching of English, because there has been no improvement has since 2008.

"We need to think about whether the level four is a good enough standard to progress to secondary school," Sir Michael said.

"We should raise the bar because a lot of children who are achieving the national average, particularly the lower end of level four, are not achieving the five A* to C grades five years after they leave primary school."

As part of a ten-point plan for improving literacy standards, he also called on schools to tell parents their child’s reading age as well as their national curriculum level.

He said: "There can be no more important subject than English. It is at the heart of our culture. Yet too many pupils fall behind 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."

Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said: "We won't solve our literacy problems until children feel inspired and motivated to read. Public libraries have a critical role to play and a proven impact on literacy, through creative reading programmes such as the Summer Reading Challenge.

"We’d like to see library partnerships in every school improvement  plan, and head teachers championing joint work, including ensuring  every child is a member of their local library."