AROUND one in six boys leaving primary school in Rotherham have the reading age of a seven-year-old or younger, it emerged today.
Figures from the Department for Education revealed 9% of 11-year-old boys - about 18,000 pupils - failed to reached expected standards in literacy tests taken on leaving primary school, BBC Radio 4 Today's programme reported.
In Nottingham, 15% of boys failed to achieved level 3 in tests taken just before they left for secondary school, the standard expected for seven-year-olds or younger. At 11, the expected standard is level 4. In Derby, Manchester, Rotherham and Telford, the figure was 14%.
Mike Welsh, president of the National Association of Headteachers and a primary school head himself, said the underachievement could be attributed to children with special needs.
He said boys' reading was one of the top priorities for primary school headteachers but the Pupil Premium would not be enough to improve reading with specialist teaching.
He said: "The point is we need to actively work on it because there is a tale of underachievement. Children need to practice reading. The practice of reading at home with parents is absolutely vital.
"The role-modelling of writing as well. We have lost that in society where people used to write letters and the like. Again, the home has to work with the school and in school we are certainly working to put programmes together, working towards the Government's Pupil Premium to support specialist teaching for pupils who are actually needing that intervention.
"At the moment the Pupil Premium has been set at 430 which is too low to have the specialist teaching. We are hoping that over the next few years it is going to rise so we can actually provide that."