Local pupils have placed Nottingham in the top ten most improved areas in the country for learning how to read and write through phonics.

Their achievement – which has seen Nottingham City move up 32 places in the national league tables in just two years – has prompted a letter from Minister of State for Schools Standards Nick Gibb MP, praising the improvement in the 2017 phonics screening check.

Phonics is a method for teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another.

This year, children in Nottingham achieved a pass rate of 79% in their phonics screening check – a four percentage point increase from 2016 and one of the top ten increases in results by local authority in the country.

Three pupil groups in particular recorded large year-on-year increases in phonics attainment:

  • Boys recorded a 4.7 percentage point increase to 78.5%
  • Pupils with English as another language recorded a six percentage point increase to 78.1%
  • Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) support recorded a 5.2 percentage point increase to 44.5%.

While children in Nottingham are still two percentage points behind the national average, it was only in 2014/15 that Nottingham was the lowest performing local authority for phonics. Faced with these challenging results, the City Council, local teaching school alliances and school-based expert practitioners met to develop a set of resources to support the teaching of phonics across the city in a structured and systematic way.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills at the City Council, said: “I would like to congratulate local schools and of course the pupils for this fantastic achievement.

He added: “We are ambitious for our children and young people in Nottingham and they deserve high quality teaching in excellent schools. We have taken steps to improve in recent years and we are now seeing the impact of this, such as this latest phonics result, as well as the increased number of OFSTED rated good or outstanding schools, now at over 85%.”