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Just under six out of ten six-year-olds met the standard required by the new phonics reading check, the results of the first year of the test show.

More than eight in ten Year 1 teachers in primary schools believe that the phonics check for six-year-olds should be scrapped, according to a survey by teaching unions.

Male reading volunteers in schools and parenting programmes that focus on fathers are among the recommendations of a major report into how to tackle the gap between boys and girls in reading.

Teaching unions have joined forces to protest against the phonics screening check, which all six-year-olds will have to take in the next few weeks.

Head teachers have threatened to put an end to the phonics reading check for all six-year-olds, if it is seen to be politically motivated and used as a weapon to attack teachers.

The Scottish Book Trust's early years book gifting programme has received an additional 450,000, bringing the total amount of funding for the scheme to 1.5m until 2013.

The protest against Government plans to introduce a phonics reading test for six-year-olds is gaining force.

Around 690,000 children starting school this autumn will receive two free books through the Booktime initiative.

The London Mayor and singer Peter Andre have launched a new literacy project to support three-to-five-year-olds in the capital.

A group of early years experts, including academics and practitioners, have launched a petition calling on the Government to abandon plans to introduce a phonics-based reading test for all six-year-olds.