No child illiterate by 2025 - Clegg
The Liberal Democrats are pledging to eradicate child illiteracy by 2025 if they are still in power after the general election.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said his party could make the promise because it was committed to protecting nursery, school and college budgets in the next parliament - whereas the Tories would cut education funding by £13 billion a year.
An extra £116 million annually would be pumped into Early Years Premium nurseries and childminders receive for every underprivileged youngsters, more than tripling it to £1,000. Nursery staff will also be encouraged to work towards gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
As of last year, 78% of primary pupils reached what is regarded as the basic level in reading. Mr Clegg said he was "proud of the scale of our ambition" to get all children above the 'floor standard' within a decade.
"We are raising the bar on what children should be able to achieve by the age of 11 and want all children to get over the bar by 2025," he said.
"The Coalition Government has cut illiteracy but it is nothing short of a national scandal that a fifth of children are still leaving primary school unable to read at a level that will allow them to succeed in later life.
"We are the only party who can make this commitment because, astonishingly, we are the only party committed to protecting the education budget from cradle to college in the next five years.
"It's because we will make sure our schools have the resources they need, that I can say with confidence that we will be able to end child illiteracy by 2025.
"But we also need to help kids before they've even hung up their coat for the first day of primary school, by giving extra funding to nurseries to help to children when they need it most and overhauling qualifications in the early years.
"This means that every child born in 2014 will leave primary school being able to read well and be able to thrive at secondary school."
Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, which is leading a coalition of charities campaigning for 100% child literacy, said: "It is shocking that one in five children leaves primary school unable to read well and that children from poorer families are nearly twice as likely to fall behind.
"Today's backing by the Liberal Democrats for the Read On, Get On mission to get every 11 year old reading well by 2025 is warmly welcomed.
"To see this ambition become a reality, we now need to see every party follow suit. Our children's futures, and our country's future prosperity, depend upon it."