WATCH: Schools Minister Nick Gibb visits Wetherby

Government Minister, Nick Gibb, said it was crucial children were taught phonics from an early age to ‘develop a love of reading’ during a visit to Wetherby’s Crossley Street Primary School on Thursday (October 9).

During a visit to the ‘Outstanding’ school, the Minister of State for Schools and Families visited a number of classes and was impressed with the level of teaching and the children’s engagement during their lessons.

Alan Lamb, Sandra Clynes, Nick Gibbs, Ann Lister and Alec Shelbrooke at Crossley Street Primary School

Alan Lamb, Sandra Clynes, Nick Gibbs, Ann Lister and Alec Shelbrooke at Crossley Street Primary School

Mr Gibb first visited a Maths class and quizzed the students on their eleven times tables before observing students in a Geography lesson and said he was impressed with their general knowledge.

He said: “Alec Shelbrooke suggested I come to Crossley Street because it’s an ‘outstanding’ school and Alec is very passionate about education. I have to say, after looking around the school, it clearly is outstanding.

“The children are engaged, they know their tables fluently and they have very good general knowledge so I was very impressed with what I saw today.”

Teaching phonics in primary school is something Mr Gibb has advocated for a number of years and has stressed its importance in helping primary school students read fluently and effortlessly.

Mr Gibb said: “It’s crucial that they are taught their phonics very early on in primary school so they can get the mechanics of reading sorted out early.

“They can then spend four or five years in primary school, developing their reading ability, becoming faster readers and developing a love of reading books.

“We saw today children going to collect their library books and they’ve only been here four weeks. We saw in Year 5 a real passion for books.

“I have those conversations with Year 6’s and Year 5’s in lots of schools that I visit and what you can tell from that is, when you ask them about what their reading and you suggest the name of an author and you see hands go up enthusiastically, you know this is a school that encourages reading and that children are reading a lot.”

Elmet and Rothwell MP, Alec Shelbrooke, said it was important that children in Wetherby continued to receive a top-class education in order to ‘seemlessly flow’ into the world of work.

He said: “If you look at where the city of Leeds is going, obviously that being the main feeder city for Wetherby. With the HS2 project coming, multi-national companies are already looking at Leeds and we already have multi-national companies,

“It’s really important that we have children educated so that they can seemlessly flow into a city which is becoming a world city. These children who are being educated here, now, are going to be the first people in the work force who will be experiencing the first time HS2 is here.

“It’s really important to have that firm foundation in place because we’re only talking 20 years away and these are going to be people going into the world of work for the first time in a city which will look very different to the city today.”