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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.