A recent study by Dr Marlynne Grant of a Catholic primary school in the south-west, which had recently adopted the systematic phonics scheme, Sound Discovery, and was teaching pupils to read from the first weeks of the Reception class, reported that by July of the following year, the pupils had an average reading age of 8 years and 2 months, some 22 months above their actual average age of 6 years and 4 months.
And the boys were out-performing the girls; addressing the stubborn problem of poor comparative performance by boys.
The Check was introduced to ensure that every child can decode fluently and effortlessly and to spot those who need extra tuition.
The Check's focus on phonics was influenced by a seven year research study in Clackmannanshire which demonstrated that teaching young children to read using a systematic synthetic phonics approach led to the children in the study having a reading age, on average, more than three years above their actual age by the time they left primary school.
Matt O'Connor, founder of campaign group Fathers For Justice, said: "I'm astonished at this.
It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child's mother or not.
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Last Saturday Michael Gove, in his speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, asked how anyone can defend an education system where “more than a fifth of children [leave] primary school without having reached a basic level of literacy and numeracy”.
Words such as “elt” or “sarps” or “groiks” can only be successfully read if the school has taught their pupils the sounds of the letters and how to blend them into words; the essence of the synthetic phonics approach to teaching children to read.
The pass mark in last year’s Check was 32 out 40 words, read correctly to the teacher.
Family rights campaigners last night condemned the policy as "absurd" and argued that it is marginalising fathers, but local authorities said teachers need to react to "the changing pattern of family life".
Tina Woolnough, 45, whose son Felix attends Edinburgh's Blackhall primary school, said several teachers there had not allowed children to make Father's Day cards this year.
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