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The Reading Framework

Volume 708: debated on Monday 31 January 2022

12. If he will make an assessment of the effect of his Department’s July 2021 policy paper, “The Reading Framework”, on the quality of the teaching of reading in primary schools. (905337)

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for his immense work on “The Reading Framework”. The resulting framework is a vital and evidence-based tool to enable schools to teach reading effectively. It shows that phonics is just one part of becoming a fluent reader. Teachers should also focus on speaking and reading stories to foster a love of reading. English hubs tell us that the framework has been well received, and they are delivering a series of well-attended webinars to support schools to implement its recommendations.

I am sure my hon. Friend will have seen the recent report by two education academics challenging the Government’s focus on phonics, despite all the evidence of its success in teaching children to read. Does he agree on the importance of continuing to make the case for phonics and the importance of the Government’s clear focus on the curriculum, and on how it is taught, in helping us to complete our mission to transform the life chances of every child in this country?

To coin a phrase, I agree with Nick. The evidence for phonics is very secure, and robust studies led by the Education Endowment Foundation show that phonics is extremely effective in teaching students to decode words. Schools do not teach phonics in isolation, and it is just one element of becoming a more fluent reader. Teachers must also focus on other elements of developing a passion for reading. My right hon. Friend is right that the evidence is very clear and that we should continue to follow it.