The introduction of traditional "phonics" teaching also reversed the national trend and saw boys outperform girls in reading, the seven-year study in Scottish schools found.
The findings could have powerful repercussions for the way reading is taught in England. Although phonics teaching was reintroduced in the literacy hour in 1998, English primary schools do not use the rapid methods that produced such impressive results in Scotland.
The study, which followed 300 primary schoolchildren from their first day at school until their first year at secondary school, found that while both sexes made above average progress, boys benefited the most.
In England only 77 per cent of primary school leavers reach the required standard of reading and spelling for their age with boys (72 per cent) significantly behind girls (83 per cent).Reuse content