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The minister for children and families, Edward Timpson MP, visited Stonegrove Children's Centre in Edgware, Barnet to celebrate the progress made by children and their families through the Early Language Development Programme (ELDP).

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.

A new retelling of Beatrix Potter's famous tale Peter Rabbit will be given to all four and five-year-olds starting school this year.

Many parents consider early years settings to be more important than the home environment when it comes to children's communication and literacy skills, according to research published by the charity National Literacy Trust (NLT).

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