Reading level concerns

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CHILDREN from lower income families in Wigan are more likely to struggle with reading than their peers, according to new figures highlighting there is still much work to be done for the borough’s education authorities.

As local high schools and academies revel in recent exam successes, Department of Education statistics show a significant gap in the reading levels of Wigan primary school children at key stage one age groups.

Pupils aged six and seven across the country are expected to reach level two standard in reading by the end of key stage one.

However, the figures show that the proportion of children who are eligible to receive free school meals achieving that level is 16 per cent less compared to other members of their class, one of the largest differences in attainment levels in the region.

Tim Warren, interim director of education at Wigan Council, said: “Although Wigan’s performance at key stage one is below average when compared to our peers nationally and with the North West, if we separate 2011 and 2012, the council has made notable improvements.

“The number of pupils eligible for free school meals who achieve level two or above by the end of key stage one has increased by six per cent since 2011.”

And across Greater Manchester, nearly a quarter of children who receive free school meals did not meet the expected targets, at an average difference of 13 per cent in comparison to the rest of their peers.

The lowest achieving group in the North West was boys eligible to receive free school meals in Bury, where only 68 per cent of pupils achieved the expected level.

While the best performing group was girls not eligible for free school meals in Stockport, 93 per cent of which gained their level two by the end of key stage one.

With a 16 per cent difference, Trafford joined Wigan as an area with a larger than average gap in reading levels.