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'Shameful' thousands of children unable to read well

Dame Julia Cleverdon, chairwoman of the Read On. Get On. coalition, said it was "shameful" that thousands of children leave primary school unable to read well enough to enjoy reading.

While many schools and communities have made good progress in helping children read well in recent years, if we continue as we currently are, we will still fall a long way short of all children reading well by the age of 11 by 2025.

Business as usual is not an option. It would leave another generation of low-income pupils with curtailed life chances and restricted horizons.

– Read On. Get On. coalition

1.5 million children 'will be unable to read well by 2025'

Around 1.5 million children will leave primary school unable to "read well" by 2025 if urgent action is not taken to tackle the issue, research suggests.

It warns that progress in improving children's reading levels has been too slow in the past, with poor youngsters most at risk of being left behind.

The Read On. Get On. coalition suggests reading with a child for 10 minutes a day can make a difference. Credit: J.M. Guyon/Candybox Images/Press Association Images

The study has been published by a group of leading charities, teachers, parents and businesses, which is launching a new campaign to ensure that by 2025, all pupils are reading to a good standard at age 11.

Reading with a child for just 10 minutes a day - even reading from the back of a cereal packet - can make a difference, the Read On. Get On. coalition suggests.

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Poor literacy and numeracy in adults 'alarmingly high'

An "alarmingly high" proportion of adults do not have a good grasp of reading, writing and maths, an influential group of MPs have warned.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the issue, the Commons Business Select Committee said. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

Urgent action is needed to tackle the issue, the Commons Business Select Committee said as it warned those who struggle the most with literacy and numeracy are not getting the help they need.

It called for a new national campaign to promote the free tuition available for anyone who wants to study those subjects up to GCSE level, alongside providing better funding and assessments to establish who needs assistance with the basics.

Schools 'should keep uniform costs to a minimum'

Schools have been told to keep the cost of uniforms to a minimum after it emerged parents were having to fork out for new ones just because schools had converted to academies.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We published guidance last year which states that schools should keep uniform costs to a minimum and prioritise value for money for parents.

"It also makes clear that schools should avoid frequent changes to uniform."

Calls to limit extra school uniform costs at academies

Parents are being forced to fork out hundreds of pounds extra for uniforms because schools have been converted into academies, council leaders have warned.

The LGA said it was unnecessary to replace expensive blazers which are still in good condition. Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

As many as 400 schools are expected to change into academies this year, with many marking the switch with a new uniform.

But the Local Government Association (LGA) said headteachers and governors need to consider the cost of a new uniform to families.

It suggested instead of introducing entirely new uniforms, academies could keep costs to a minimum by using plain blazers that can have badges attached or use sports kits and bags without badges.

Teachers 'at sea' with English grammar, says top head

Many able teachers are "completely at sea" with aspects of English grammar, a leading headmistress has claimed.

Alice Phillips, who heads St Catherine's private girls' school in Surrey, said teachers educated in the 1990s and 2000s had no formal grounding in grammar.

Ms Phillips said many teachers were not equipped to teach English grammar. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Writing in the Times Education Supplement, Ms Phillips said:

Many of our brightest, most enthusiastic teachers have little or no grounding in English language or grammar - through no fault of their own - and are completely at sea with many aspects of proper usage

– Alice Phillips

Ms Phillips, who also head the Girls' School Association, also hit out at English teachers' apparent lack of knowledge of pre-20th century literature.

She said some teachers were "frankly, unversed in much pre-20th century literature" despite the new English curriculum calling for a greater emphasis on this area.

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Clegg: Not 'necessary' for schools to 'plunder' budgets

It is "not necessary" for local councils to "plunder other educational budgets" to pay for the Lib Dems flagship free school meals scheme, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Nick Clegg dismissed claims the scheme was too expensive and told Good Morning Britain: "You say that it's easy to find schools that have problems - I simply don't think that is right."

Free school meals give 'vital support' to 160k children

Approximately 160,000 extra children will be given "vital support" by the Government's free school meals scheme, a children's charity has found.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said:

The extension of free school meals to all infants in the country is a positive step in the fight against child poverty. Our analysis shows that about 160,000 more children in poverty will be getting this vital support as a result of this historic move. It shows that the Government recognises the hardship that thousands of families are facing.

– Matthew Reed

Free school lunches begin for two million infants

Almost two million primary school children will be entitled to a free lunch under a flagship Lib Dem scheme, despite protests from local councils that the £1 billion programme costs too much.

Nick Clegg announced the scheme during the Lib Dem party conference last year. Credit: PA

The Deputy Prime Minister pledged a free lunch to every five to seven-year-old in England's 16,500 state primary schools last year.

Ministers said the move would save families £400 per year and improve the health and education of pupils.

However, local councils claimed they have had to raid budgets in order to pay for the scheme.

Earlier this year, the policy sparked a coalition row over the expense of the reform, with former education secretary Michael Gove and schools minister David Laws later writing a joint article insisting they were both behind the scheme.

Faith schools 'can give priority when oversubscribed'

The Government has said faith schools can only "give priority to children of their own faith if they are oversubscribed" as they weigh into a proposed shake-up from religious leaders.

The Accord Coalition wants admissions standards for faith schools to be relaxed so children of different religions can join.

in a statement the Department of Education said:

Existing faith schools can choose to give priority to children of their own faith if they are oversubscribed. We are clear however that all newly-created faith free schools and academies may only prioritise half their places according to faith if they are oversubscribed. Where places are available, faith schools must offer them to all children who apply, regardless of their faith.

– Department of Education Spokeswoman
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