More than one in ten (11.9%) Welsh school pupils have a below average reading ability, according to results from the National Reading Test – 1.3% higher than in England.

The test is age standardised and uses a score of a 100 as a yardstick average. A score lower than 85 suggests that a child is having difficulty reading.

Disadvantaged pupils – those eligible for free school meals (FSM) – fared even worse with 27.6% unable to achieve an average score. This is 3.3% higher than equivalent English pupils.

Just one in 20 disadvantaged pupils scored above average (115) on reading ability, also trailing behind England by 1.7%.

Responding, Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“This yet another damning indicator of the Welsh education system, coming in the wake of a series of poor reports from OECD and Estyn, which both pointed to similar levels of underachievement.

“What’s clear from these results is that not only are Wales’ poorest pupils being left behind, but they are also being out-performed by their English peers.

“Indeed, one-in-five Welsh pupils do not qualify for the latest PISA assessment because their reading ability is so poor – a rate far higher than Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

“The Cabinet Secretary has a mountain to climb to redress this imbalance – it’s evident that schools are not being shown the leadership or given the resources from the Welsh Labour Government to make a meaningful difference to the life chances of those most in need.”


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