12:14am Thursday 15th March 2012
© Press Association 2013
A "no excuses culture" to improve standards of literacy and English in schools will be called for by Ofsted's chief inspector.
Sir Michael Wilshaw will say that progress has stalled and England is being overtaken by other countries.
One in five children do not achieve the expected literacy levels by the end of primary school, he will add. The issue is tackled by an Ofsted report, which found that standards in English are not high enough and there has been no overall improvement in primary pupils' learning since 2008.
In a speech to a group of teachers and literacy experts at Thomas Jones School, Ladbroke Grove, west London, Sir Michael is expected to say: "There can be no more important subject than English. It is at the heart of our culture and literacy skills are crucial to pupils' learning for all subjects.
"Yet too many pupils fall behind in their literacy 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. We are no longer a leading country in terms of our literacy performance - others are doing better.
"We don't need more research or more headline-grabbing initiatives which can't be sustained. Good leadership is the key to good literacy in schools. Above all, this means being passionate about high standards of literacy for every single pupil, and creating a no excuses culture both for pupils and for staff."
Sir Michael will note that even achieving the benchmark at the end of primary school is no guarantee of success. He will say that last year, 45% of pupils who achieved the lower end of Level 4 at age 11 did not attain a Grade C in GCSE English.
He is set to propose 10 steps to raising standards, including a recommendation that the Government considers whether Level 4 is a suitably high enough target to provide a foundation for success at secondary school.
The Ofsted report, entitled Moving English Forward, found that too few schools encourage a "love of reading", while little attention is given to spelling and handwriting. The watchdog has pledged to give greater emphasis to the inspection of literacy skills. It will also start a series of unannounced inspections at primary schools on the training of phonics teaching, a system which focuses on sounds rather than having children try to recognise whole words.
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