All pupils aged five and six will be given a compulsory reading test next June to help schools identify children who are struggling to cope in class.
The pupils will all be given a list of 40 words to read – 20 real words and 20 phonetically made-up words to identify whether they understand sounds and letters.
The go-ahead for the test was given yesterday after a pilot in 300 schools revealed that 43 per cent of teachers said they had identified pupils with reading problems for the first time as a result of the test.
However, teacher leaders were sharply critical of the plan, claiming it would introduce the concept of "teaching to the test" in the first year of primary schooling. They also argued that they already had robust measures for checking pupils' reading standards.
The pupils will be given the test between 18 and 22 June next year. During the pilot, it took teachers between four and nine minutes to take each pupil through the list of 40 words.
Among the make-up words included in the phonics test were "vag" and "vop".Reuse content