NEARLY 400 pupils left primary schools in Wigan borough last year with unacceptably poor reading abilities.
Literacy charity Beanstalk says a total of 383 youngsters headed to “big school” this month having not reached the minimum requirement of their age group: the Standard Attainment Test (SATs) level 4B - last year.
This poor grasp of the basics of the language will then inevitably have a negative impact on their remaining academic studies.
The figures have been released to coincide with the Read On Get On campaign which aims to get all children reading well by age 11 by 2025 of which Beanstalk is heavily involved.
The charity provides a range of educational services to schools and uses volunteers to help improve reading levels in schools.
Bosses say one and a half million children will reach the age of 11 unable to “read well” by 2025 unless urgent action is taken to tackle the reading crisis.
Amy Lewis, Beanstalk area manager for the North West, said: “It is truly shocking that so many children leave primary school unable to read confidently. We are urgently looking for more volunteer reading helpers to provide vital one-to-one support in local schools.
“We are currently looking for volunteers to work across Wigan – particularly in Atherton and Orrell.”
If you think you could give a child the gift of reading I would urge you to step forward to become a reading volunteer.”
However, Wigan Council dispite Beanstalk’s figures saying only 301 pupils did not reach the required reading level last year and that has improved subsequently.
Kirston Nelson, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “Figures from the Department for Education show that in 2013, 301 children in Wigan borough left primary school without achieving a level four in their reading tests.
“Although it’s disappointing this small number of children have not reached that target, the wider context clearly shows reading results are improving throughout the borough.
“From 2013 to 2014, the proportion of children achieving a level four or higher in the reading test at Key Stage Two increased from 88 per cent to 91 per cent. The number of children leaving Key Stage Two without achieving the expected level has fallen.
“Primary schools are working hard to ensure children make a good start in their reading from an early age. Teachers have undergone additional training in delivering daily phonics lessons and a range of additional methods have been introduced to ensure children who fall behind catch up.
“Wigan secondary schools are also working with those children who are identified in Year Seven as being in need of additional support in reading. This has seen the start of extra reading recovery classes in secondary schools.
“We obviously want to continue improving our results. Reading is so important to a child’s education that we’re also very keen to encourage parents to read to and with their children as much as possible from an early age.”
The school reform minister, Nick Gibb, said that that around 80,000 more children were reaching level four in reading nationally, and that it would allow them to start secondary school secure in the basics and able to move on to more complex subjects.
He said: “It means in the long term these children stand a far better chance of winning a place at university, gaining an apprenticeship and securing good jobs,” he said.
“We have set unashamedly high expectations for all children, introduced a new test in the basics of punctuation, spelling and grammar.”
Wigan Council’s education department refused to comment on the issue.
To find out more about Beanstalk or if you would like to volunteer visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.